New parking regulation causes concern among commuter students

Photo by Adam Cvik.

ALI HANSON | STAFF REPORTER | amhanson@butler.edu

The ground floor of the parking garage on Sunset Avenue is now only available to visitors.

Any students or staff must park on the second floor or higher from now on because of the new parking regulation Butler University has now administered. Students and faculty were allowed to park in the ground floor of the parking garage until Feb. 1.

Jeremy Moore, associate director of parking and transportation services, explained the change is due to the university needing specific parking for just visitors. He said he has heard mixed reviews on this subject.

“I’ve had some staff and faculty say they support the idea,” Moore said. “I’ve had some faculty email me and say they were concerned. They felt that the ground floor was going to fill up and visitors would start to park in the higher levels, making the parking situation worse.”

Moore said students are far more concerned about this new parking regulation.

“They have concerns about finding parking as well,” Moore said. “They’ve gone a bit farther than the staff and faculty and have said they would request refunds regarding their permit because they are not being allowed to park where they were told they could.”

Caitlyn Beck, fifth-year strategic communications major, has been a commuter her entire career at Butler. She lives in Fishers so she drives about 25 minutes to get to campus every day.

Beck usually would park in the garage, though she parks almost anywhere she could find a spot on campus.

“Tickets are a nightmare,” Beck said.

Beck would try to park on the ground floor of the parking garage but it was almost always full.

“It’s kind of the same way with everywhere for parking on campus,” Beck said. “Unless you get here obscenely early, you’re not going to get a space there anyway.”

Beck understands many people do not know where they can park if they are visitors so this does help those people find a spot tailored to them. But, she said she feels this regulation is making commuters even more alienated from the Butler community.

“I feel like I’m so used to getting pushed aside and this is just one more of those things,” Beck said. “We used to have a commuter-only parking lot but over time, they shrunk that down over and over again until it isn’t even there anymore. Now commuters are left with very few options.”

Cecilia Robbins, senior English major, has been a commuter since she transferred to Butler as a junior. She agrees with Beck on feeling left out on Butler’s campus as a commuter student.

“There are a ton of commuter students and I feel like we are a group of students that are not really noticed a lot by administration because we are not on campus all the time so I don’t really know if they take a lot of commuter students’ opinions a lot of the time,” Robbins said.

The change won’t affect Beck’s everyday commute, but she agrees with Robbins that this is another case of commuters’ needs on campus being ignored.

For both Robbins and Beck, the decision to be a commuter student was based on cost.

“It’s the cheapest option I’ve had to be at Butler since I don’t have to pay room and board,” Robbins said. “It’s easier because my parents live in Carmel so I don’t have to rent an apartment, which is nice, but it’s a long drive so I have to take time out of my day to make sure I am ready and take into account traffic and all of that.”

Robbins can agree that there are benefits to being a commuter but the parking is not one of them.

“Parking is incredibly frustrating,” Robbins said. “I personally have several health conditions that make walking long distances very difficult for me so parking at Hinkle is something I never do and the parking garage is good.”

While Beck parks anywhere she can, Robbins said she tries to find parking that is easiest for her concerns.

“I usually tried to find parking on the ground or second level and sometimes even that was hard,” Robbins said. “With this new deal of no permit-parking on the first level, I’m kind of frustrated with it. Because I technically don’t have a handicap parking tag because I haven’t gotten one from my doctor yet but I have been talking to her about getting one recently, so that will also make it a lot harder on me with this new change.”

The ground floor of the parking garage has 82 spaces, 17 of which are ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, compliant parking spaces. ADA parking spaces are reserved for people with disabilities that make it difficult for them to walk long distances. The other floors of the parking garage have about 180 spaces and a few ADA spaces close to the elevators for easy access.

Moore has heard quite a few comments from commuter students about this change.

“One of the things I have heard people ask about is whether this regulation will be 24/7 or if this is in place during breaks as well because there was nothing mentioned in the email about parking on the first floor during those specific times,” Moore said.

For right now, the regulation applies 24/7, no matter whether it is a break or not, so there is no confusion.  Moore foresees amendments being made to the regulation after they make note of how often the ground floor is used now, what times is it used the most, and how much it fills up during breaks.

“We need some time to figure all that out,” Moore said.

The parking committee on campus has a monthly meeting for faculty and representatives from SGA to voice their concerns about parking regulations. This month’s meeting is set to occur next Feb. 13.

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