From March 30 to April 27, the University of Rhode Island’s traditional parking layout will change in order to accommodate visitors during the busy admissions season.
The Fine Arts South parking lot, which is usually reserved for faculty and staff, will instead host visitors for the next month. Faculty and staff can park in the Tucker Lot across from Washburn Hall, the Visitors’ Center Lot near the Emporium and both sides of Flagg Road. Due to this change, campus police will be present on Flagg Road and a speed bump will be placed to control traffic and direct drivers to the newly designated lots.
Faculty can also park with students in the student-designated spots in Fine Arts North and Plains Road Lot. Students will continue to park in the typical designated areas. According to Abigail Rider, vice president of administration and finance, the number of parking spaces will not change. The change is in part to make the campus more accessible to first time visitors.
“We have been able, unlike many public universities in the Northeast, to increase our enrollment in the past ten years,” Rider said. “So our visitors are critical to the University. We need to make sure that they can easily arrive on campus, find a place to walk and find the [Quadrangle] and get down to Memorial Union to begin the tour.”
Rider also said that in addition to the high number of visitors, construction projects on campus have limited parking throughout this year. She is hoping that changes won’t be necessary next year since the Welcome Center will be opened.
“What’s happened [to cause this] is that our parking has changed because we started the Brookside Apartment complex, so to do that we had to take over 400 spaces offline,” Rider said. “In addition, we’re building the Engineering building and the Welcome Center, which has made the Briar Lane Lot smaller. Enrollment Services’ concern was that visitors would be confused and could easily get lost with the construction.”
According to Rider, parking changes usually occur during admissions season and events such as Commencement, but none of these previous incidents have been this drastic.
When asked why the Fine Arts South lot was chosen for parking for visitors instead of the student lot in Fine Arts North, Rider said that its proximity to the Quad.
“We felt that the faculty certainly understand the importance of new enrollees at the University. It is also the right sized lot, and would cause less disruption to the University as a whole,” Rider said.
According to Rider, parking spots are not being taken away by the new set-up, but instead switches who parks where. She said that it may be inconvenient, but faculty and staff should not be losing parking spots during the change, and there’s plenty of room for displaced faculty to park.
Erin Denette, a lecturer in the Math Department, said that she usually parks in the Fine Arts South Lot but is now parking in the Tucker Lot. Denette said that she doesn’t mind the change for now, since her office is located in Lippitt Hall on the Quad.
When asked about confusion caused by the new parking layout, Denette said “I wasn’t confused about it because I saw the notice, but I can see why people find it frustrating.”
Other faculty are less enthused about the change. One long time professor, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the new parking situation was frustrating but not surprising.
“A lot of my colleagues have not been able to find parking for their classes,” the professor said. “Parking has never been taken seriously at URI.”
Mary Versteck, a part-time faculty member and advisor in the Psychology Department, understands the need for visitor parking, but does not like how it is at the expense of faculty parking.
“I think generally the parking here is very difficult,” Versteck said. “I noticed that this week they had a sign saying that they were towing cars that were parking around the circle near Chaffee. This shows that the faculty and staff sometimes have no place to park.”
Versteck also was unsure of the need of speed bumps on Flagg Road during admissions seasons.
“I guess [the speed bumps] are needed on one hand, but on the other hand, I’m not sure how effective they are,” Versteck said. “There are a few people I see speeding but not many.”
Meanwhile, most students did not notice any significant changes in their parking.
“There’s a lot of parking spots that still aren’t filled,” student commuter Kane Russell said when asked about if there has been more crowding in the Plains lot.
Nicole Flanigan, a senior, agreed with this sentiment.
“I haven’t noticed any faculty parking stickers in the commuter lots, and it hasn’t been any more busy than usual,” said Flanigan. “Overall, it’s not a big deal.”
When asked about the increased police presence and traffic on Flagg Road, Flanigan said that it’s frustrating and backs up traffic but she understands the need for it.