Whitworth rewrites parking policy on campus

The Parking Task Force Charter will take effect this month, establishing a plan to presumably provide everyone on campus with a convenient place to park. “The Parking Task Force Charter is to basically come up with efficient parking with a ‘park for the mind’ mentality,” Chris Eichorst, Director of Facilities Services said.

The long term idea for the new parking policy is to move parking to the outer edges of campus as much as possible. It is a good way to reduce conflict between pedestrians and cars, which is safer for college students, Eichorst said. Everyone chooses more desirable interior parking places, so the idea of designated parking spots was put into effect.

“That’s why we came up with a residential parking plan,” Eichorst said.

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Off-campus and on-campus students, faculty and staff are required to display parking passes in the driver’s side of the windshield. They cost $45, a low price when compared with other schools, Eichorst said.

Over the summer, facilities made improvements to the parking lots such as additional lighting, Eichorst said. Assigned parking is also new this year.

“Last year, there was no assigned parking,” Eichorst said. “Which was OK, but students come and they park in the front row of the HUB parking lot, and they stay for a week, and the car won’t move. That doesn’t help the availability during the day and night.”

For example, residents living in McMillan Hall will no longer be allowed to park in spaces behind Duvall.

Security often allows a grace period for parking rules in the beginning of the year, especially this year because of the new policy, Eichorst said.

Failure to display a parking pass, parking in the wrong area or parking in fire lanes are all violations that could result in a warning or a fine.

“Enforcement of policies really needs to be stronger,” said Justin Botejue, sophomore and ASWU Senator for Stewart Hall and the Village.

Without the enforcement, the situation will not change from last year, he said.

Security has been lenient with drivers so far since they recognize many students do not know about the new policies.

“I think it takes time for people to be aware,” Eichorst said. “There was one person who said that she didn’t even know about the policy and was asking how we were going to notify everybody.”

Security and Facilities Services spread awareness of parking policy by issuing warnings instead of fines or tickets. Announcements on Pirate Port, advertisements last spring and an explanation and parking map at registration notified staff and students about the change, Eichorst said.

“The parking situation here is really a breath of fresh air compared with the tyranny of dealing with state schools,” said Brad Pointer, assistant director of campus recreation. “Seeing the process handled with grace and flexibility instead of ruling with an iron fist seems refreshing and healthy.”

The Parking Task Force is still debating some issues, Eichorst said. There are four low-emission vehicle spots behind East Hall that rarely get used that could be converted to regular slots, for example. Lot A1 across from the HUB may be re-designated as a “catch-all,” or one where anyone can park.

“I think we have a pretty balanced approach on distributing the parking. I don’t know that we’ve heard any issues from the constituency out there,” Eichorst said.

The Parking Task Force will meet this week to discuss how well the parking policies are working.

“We’re open to change and what makes sense,” Eichorst said.

Katie Shaw Staff Writer

Contact Katie Shaw at kshaw17@my.whitworth.edu

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