Perhaps one of the “hottest topics” at Gustavus is the parking situation. Throughout the room draw process, one of the biggest criteria for many with a vehicle on campus is whether or not there is parking close to the dorm. And if there is parking, if there are more than six spots available. And, lo and behold, even if there is a large parking lot outside of the dorm there are rarely any spots available. So where do you end up parking? A solid ten-minute walk from your dorm (especially fun in below freezing temperatures and snow) if you live in Complex, Norelius, or Uhler.
One would think that proximity to parking spots should be one of the last things you think about when picking a dorm to live in, not the first. But with the current parking lot setup being as abysmal as it is, that is the reality of our room draw process. This does not go to say that improvements have not been made or are in the process of being made: the Sohre parking lot expanded, making it much easier for Rundstrom residents to find a parking space. Although they do get overwhelmed with the whopping six different parking spot options outside of their building, it is nice to have options.
Although parking lots would not necessarily make our campus more aesthetically pleasing, parking lots will make it easier to accommodate the growing class sizes. it is likely that the incoming class will be even bigger than the one that began schooling at Gustavus this past fall. As class sizes grow, so does the demand for parking permits.
Other schools have remedied the issue of availability versus demand for parking spaces by not allowing first-year students to get a parking pass unless they live a certain distance away from campus. Others continue growing their parking lot sizes. At this point, the solution for Gustavus is not clear, as many students rely on cars to get to work or go home, among other things. And the spaces we do have left could be utilized differently than parking lots. Even more, some colleges only sell as many parking passes as there are parking spots to ensure that there will be a spot of everyone with a permit.
But at what point does it become u With the increase in student population, the parking situation is no longer about ease, but about the safety of Gustavus students–particularly during the winter months. nsafe for students to walk back to their dorm in the dark, in freezing temperatures that threaten frostbite, on the ice-covered ground for extended periods of time? Or walking up hills covered in mud and ice trying to get back to their dorm because there are not stairs or a sidewalk from that parking lot to their dorm?
The biggest issue we seem to face in the expansion of parking lots is that the buildings with the least access to parking have the least amount of free space surrounding them, so solutions are limited. One option that has been openly discussed is getting rid of the tennis courts behind Sorensen, Gibbs, and North Halls and creating parking lots for residents of those buildings and nearby Uhler. There are many factors that go into making a change like this: where will new tennis courts go, how much will constructing a new parking lot cost, and how much benefit would it have to the student population.
With the increase in student population, the parking situation is no longer about ease, but about the safety of Gustavus students-particularly during the winter months. A parking lot would not be as nice as a new academic or residential building, but will certainly be as useful. With the difficulty of limiting the number of parking passes and who can buy them, expanding the lots appears to be the most logical solution.
The weather is getting nicer and a ten-minute walk across campus is becoming less of a dreadful situation to find oneself in. But it is important to remember the cold toes and fingers, all while wearing cold-weather clothing, you felt while walking back to your dorm during the dead of winter and hope for a change for the next winter.