On-Campus Parking and the “Record Freshman Class!”

Danielle Johnson | Opinions Editor

Oh, how we love to emphasize the “record freshman class sizes!” that Whitworth has achieved the past couple of years.

Don’t get me wrong — I love that we focus on this. As a current sophomore, I think it’s awesome that my class last year and the current freshman class have broken records for the number of incoming students. However, many students on campus are having trouble being excited about this when it raises issues in an important part of the Whitworth students’ experience: parking. 

As an incoming freshman last year, I didn’t come to Whitworth with a car. I ended up getting one during my second semester, but for a while, I didn’t have to deal with not being able to find parking. Even when I did get a car, at least one part of the Stewart parking lot usually had a spot open when I needed one. This year, I’m living in Boppell, and I have to say: It’s harder than ever to find a parking spot.

I began the year by parking in the lot by the HUB that I didn’t realize was a “no-overnight” lot until I got three notices on my car within two days of each other. I figured that since the parking lot near Stewart and Boppell was completely filled, that it was okay for me to park in the giant parking lot next to it — that part, yes, is my fault for not paying attention to the “no-overnight” signs. But every day, it feels like there are less spots to park in because of these “no-overnight” lots or spaces that are being excluded from student use. Additionally, the construction of the Athletic Leadership center has taken three of the lots to either side of the Fieldhouse — iG3, G6, and F1 — leaving just the lot in front of it. This has caused BMac residents and student athletes to have about one-third as much parking as they usually do, being forced to park by Baldwin Jenkins.

Recently, the Whitworth community received an email with the subject line, “The Trick to Parking on Campus.” This four-sentence email said the secret to parking on campus is to “arrive early, park, and walk.” This seems doable: You arrive early enough to find a parking spot, and then you walk however far you need to. But what about for the students whose work and class schedules are packed full, or they’re not able to arrive 30 minutes early to a class just to be able to find parking? The email also tells us to park in the X4 gravel lot — which is currently taken up by construction as well.

I’ve had conversations recently with multiple people who have referred to the fact that many college campuses do not even allow freshmen to have cars on campus, or who charge more for parking passes. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what the answer to this problem is. I feel that as a freshman, it’s tough not having a car and not being able to get around as easily; however, as a sophomore with an increasingly jam-packed schedule and less free time to be circling around every parking lot until I’m hopefully able to find a spot, I’m beginning to see the upside of increasing the cost of parking permits for freshmen.

I’m not sure if this is something that’s possible, but I know that I’m not the only one on campus who’s frustrated with the lack of parking, no matter how many times we’re told that “actually, there really is enough parking!” as is stated on the Whitworth website. Could we keep some of the “no overnight” lots open for students to use for the duration of the construction? We need to work together to come up with solutions, because if the freshman classes keep getting increasingly larger, how are we ever going to have enough spots for every car on campus?

*This article was published in Issue 1 on Sept. 19 with an inaccurate graphic, and the corrected graphic is below.