The University of Rhode Island Parking and Transportation services sent out a statement in August, which listed new parking changes on campus. Since then, a petition was sent around social media along with complaints that are continually rising towards parking.
“I was hoping parking services would react to my petition,” said Marissa DeOliveira, a graduate student at URI. “They have been sending other emails out since, stating ‘we understand your concern’ about parking. But do they really?”
Joseph Paradise, manager of Parking and Transportation services, said that there were more upgrades on parking rather than changes to parking policies.
URI upgraded parking lot signs based on designation to the specific groups who park on campus. Paradise said the signs were made more informative, clearly identifying the lots with numbers to match the campus map and who is allowed to park there.
The Fine Arts Lot was newly paved over the summer and barriers were adjusted to compensate for construction all over campus, allowing more spots for faculty and students.
Keaney Lot is now designated for residents only. Paradise said that this change happened because parking will be fair and less mixed based on different identified groups that park.
Come January 2018, the Dairy Barn lot will go under construction for new housing on campus. This influences on-campus resident parking. Flagg Road lot then will become resident only parking, taking away about 250 spots for commuters.
Paradise said this is the busiest time of year, but it will slow down and there will be more parking in the prime areas.
“All commuter students aren’t here at the same time,” he says. “If students plan their time wisely, they are guaranteed a spot.” However, some students do say there is a parking problem. Although parking is not a new complaint, it is a recurring one that annually has students up in arms.
DeOliveira created a petition because of her experience with parking. She feels that students deserve to have more input and be taken seriously with issues that deserve to be heard.
“Students need to be more productive on campus,” she said. “I think it’s unacceptable to leave an hour to an hour and a half early for your classes because it takes so long to find a spot. Something had to be said.”
Campus security was seen sitting in front of parking lots to keep traffic moving and let students know that the lot is full during the first week of the semester. Lindsay Farbent, junior, said that she had seen a few spots as she rolled past the Fine Arts lot one day, with security blocking the entrance. She said that it took a lot of convincing to let her through so she can get to class on time and claim the spot.
“I think there needs to be more spots available and less restrictions on where you can and cannot go,” Farbent said. “I don’t think there should be someone blocking the entrance when there’s clearly spots in there.”
When students attempt to find spots, they usually tend to leave themselves 30-45 minutes to find people walking to their car, keep their blinker on and follow them to get a student’s spot.
“You pretty much have to stalk a student to their spot,” said Farbent.
A large concern for students is parking in the furthest and biggest parking area, Plains Road Lot. Farbent is one who expressed how inconvenient the lot location is. Most students express their dread to park in Plains Road Lot. “I have to wake up two hours before class just to get a parking spot that’s not in Plains. It’s unnecessary in my opinion and makes me stressed out,” she says.
Ryan Wilks, a junior at URI, doesn’t seem to have much of a parking problem because his classes are all early. He says that by the time he leaves campus, people are fighting for his prime spot. “I usually just pull in and go to class,” he said. “It’s not too bad because I leave once the spots fill up. If you don’t have an 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. class, you’re out of luck.”
The parking situation on campus has been a common complaint from students for years, especially since so many URI students commute. According to the URI Parking and Transportation services staff, 5,000 commuter permits are sold per year and there are about 3,500 total specifically for commuters only this semester.
With the rise of construction, Paradise promises that Parking and Transportation services will do their best to accommodate drivers and their parking spots with other parking options to be announced.