In the past year, the University built Spruce Hall, a dorm designed for incoming freshmen, and Nicholson Gateway, an apartment complex meant for upperclassmen. It also began the building of Cedar Hall, located right next to Spruce.
Nicholson Gateway covers a span of 28 acres across from the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, along Nicholson Drive. This land was previously empty.
Spruce Hall, which is capable of housing up to 400 freshmen students, was built in what used to be Hart Lot, a parking lot across from Cypress Hall.
Cedar Hall, the residential hall currently being built, is placed in what used to be Kirby-Smith Hall’s lot.
The University started building Cedar during my freshman year in 2017, and the lack of parking affected residents. Residents were forced to park farther during the fall semester, which was not only inconvenient, but unsafe.
Commuters and the University have had ongoing issues for years, probably decades. There are graduated students from the early 2000s who recount the same experiences.
The University has a campus population of upward of 30,000 students, and this number continues to grow. This year, a new rule was implemented stating all freshmen are required to stay on campus, unless the student is 21 or older on the first day of classes, married, the guardian of one or more children, a part-time student, enlisted in the military or living with a parent or guardian within a 50-mile radius of the University. Freshmen are allowed to bring their cars with them to campus, further exhausting the parking problem.
The two new lots which were built for residents do little to help the large number of commuters. In addition to the size of the new freshman class, commuter parking has yet to be expanded. In fact, commuters have lost parking lots to residents in the past couple of years. Two lots along Aster St. are shared between commuters and residents.This has led to commuters struggling with parking on a daily basis during the school week.
On the first day of class alone, I had to drive around for an hour between the commuter lots on the west side of campus to find a parking spot. I’ve even had friends forced to miss their classes because they couldn’t find parking. This is a daily reality for many commuting students. Not only is this struggle frustrating, but inconvenient for students who pay for a parking pass to attend the University as commuters.
The University is responsible for catering to all of the student masses who are enrolled in their degree programs. The current handling of commuter students does nothing to alleviate their parking problems.
This is also quite possibly a plot by the University to encourage its students to live on-campus. Students usually choose not to stay on campus due to the high costs and low benefits of the halls compared to off-campus housing. More and more freshmen were opting out of staying on-campus, which could be a reason for the new residency requirement.
The University should take some of their focus off of creating more housing and onto making more space for commuters to park. It is a crisis and should be treated as such.
Maya Stevenson is an English and economics sophomore from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.