A group of University of Connecticut students met late Monday night to discuss the problems they have with on-campus parking and to organize a plan to achieve better policies for commuter and resident students.
The group, lead by seventh semester physiology and neurobiology student Omar Taweh, came together in response to a Facebook post Taweh made to the group UConn Buy or Sell.
“Come… tonight for a student-led meeting aimed at discussing the parking and transportation services issues,” the post read. “Goals of this meeting: to produce a list of demands for the department of transportation and create a plan for moving forward.”
The post was made following a week of unrest among students over the new bus lines and reduced student parking on campus.
Taweh said he believes that the current bus system on campus does not accurately reflect the needs of the student body and that parking on campus is difficult for students to navigate.
“The biggest problems with transportation on campus are the inconsistency of and lack of ability for the bus system to address on-campus students’ needs and also the lack of and poor distribution of parking on campus,” Taweh said.
UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz responded to recent complaints, saying the campus was not designed for cars and students must learn to adapt to the restraints.
“UConn is no different than other 100-plus-year-old universities that have evolved over time to have very little parking in its core, and to be designed as a “walking” campus,” Reitz said. “That can be frustrating to students who’ve been used to driving and parking right next to their high schools or in front of their homes, but it’s one of many differences that’s inevitable in college life on countless campuses nationwide.”
Reitz added that commuter parking has been reduced due to increased Area 2 spots due to contract negotiations from the Graduate Employee Union (GEU-UAW) which allowed for GA’S and TA’s to park in Area 2 spots, and ongoing construction at the Fine Arts Complex restricting Area 2 spots.
“Commuter students want to park close to the center of campus, but those spaces are quickly filled each weekday,” Reitz said. “Commuter students looking for parking spaces after 9 or 9:30 a.m. should just go to Lot C. Lot W is pretty full during the peak periods when been nearing its capacity.”
Taweh said these problems should not be occurring at UConn and is confused as to how the university could be a walking campus, yet not have sufficient parking.
“Other universities with similar commuter percentages as UConn don’t have these problems,” Taweh said. “Also, the fact that UConn wants to be a walking campus and also not have parking is a counterproductive goal.”
Taweh added that he expects more transparency out of UConn Parking Services in respect to data and statistics used by the university to decide bus routes and parking capacities.
“I would be quite frustrated if UConn does not get back to us about our data requests,” Taweh said. “There are so many instances where the university makes decisions with the claim of data to back it up, but we never see any of that data. We are going to invoke our right to view this public information.”
In terms of a response, Taweh said he would continue to try and work with the university to solve students’ parking problems, but also acknowledged the possibility of an organized student response.
“I don’t want to say anything about a demonstration yet. When I start tossing that word around, UConn gets nervous,” Taweh said. “But I want them to know that we’re thinking about it.”
Andrew Miano is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.