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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Parking garage would offer a wealth of opportunities

Published: November 8, 2013
Section: Opinions

Student parking at Brandeis should probably be considered a rite of passage. It is as if finally being handed one of the peel-off parking stickers can be equated with receiving a Bar Mitzvah certificate; with great privilege and maturity comes great responsibility. With limited off-campus transportation options, having a car at school is often a gateway to seemingly unlimited freedom. It is as if South Street becomes your very own magic carpet.

Based on my own experiences as a student driver, it seems as though every upperclassmen with a car, and the underclassmen who manage to get around the rules, has a plethora of Brandeis parking stories associated with their coveted campus-registered motor vehicle. I can recall some of mine with great nostalgia. There was the time last fall when I left campus midday to cast my vote in the presidential election, only to return to campus to find no spots left in my regularly assigned theater lot. Running late to class, I made the last minute call to park in one of the ever student-forbidden spots on Loop Road, all while making a mental promise to myself that I would move my car as soon as my class ended. When I returned to find an inevitable ticket, I appealed it on the basis that I did not have time to appropriately park my car because I was fulfilling my civic duty. A more recent parking scenario occurred this semester when I was boxed in by several other vehicles in a mysterious corner of the theatre lot. I was only able to exit due to the kindness of a good Samaritan who was able to guide me out of my spot.

Student parking at Brandeis is inconvenient to say the least. Unless you have all of your classes in the business school, the walk from the theater lot to upper campus, where a majority of classes are held, can be treacherous, especially in the winter. It is easy to see why students are often tempted to park in lots to which they are not assigned. Everybody has days when they are sick or running late and a 10-minute uphill sprint to upper campus just does not seem appealing. As a result, students who break the rules, even if it is only a few times, rack up ticket fees that are not always easy to pay on top of regular semester fees. The parking woes that I am describing primarily apply to commuters who depend on their cars to get to school every day. Brandeis does not have the space to house all of its students on campus, and as a result, there will always be a considerable population of students who commute to school by car. The stress of parking is not always welcome on top of the stresses of everyday school life.

Brandeis is in dire need of a parking facility that better accommodates this ever-present need for more convenient parking options for students. With the right planning and consideration, I am sure that there are at least a few spots on campus where a parking garage could be contemplated. While I understand that a majority of university resources should and do go directly to areas that support the internal workings of the university, a parking garage would be a tremendous asset to this campus. Not only would a garage make Brandeis a more friendly environment for student commuters, but faculty and administrators would also probably feel more at ease about their commutes as well. Additionally, a parking garage could help to better facilitate visitor parking, which often causes understandable congestion in student and faculty parking areas.

Although a parking garage might seem superficial, in terms of looking at the long-term goals for the Brandeis campus, I believe it is a necessary next step. More ample and convenient parking would make the entire campus a more usable and friendly space for students, faculty, staff, administrators and visitors. It would also probably help to reduce unnecessary traffic on Loop Road, where people often circle either lost or unable to find proper parking. Investing in a parking garage would make Brandeis’s suburban campus more of an asset and create a less stressful environment for all members of the community and visitors alike.