There is something terribly wrong with parking and transportation this semester, as recent conversations across campus indicate. Changes to lots, bus routes, and construction have created an overall negative impact on commuter access that has affected every constituency at UConn, including Graduate Assistants (GAs).
While we have negotiated important improvements to the cost of parking for GAs, a Graduate Employee Union (GEU) survey last week showed that a significant minority of participants nevertheless reported that parking access overall has worsened this semester, due to increased competition for parking spaces and changes to on-campus bus service.
In addition to increased competition for space, especially after 8:30am, our members report unreliable timing of buses, insufficient pick-ups at peripheral locations such as W-lot, and near impossibility to get from I-Lot to the center of campus due to the closure of Jim Calhoun Way, all of which inhibit our ability to conduct our research and teaching.
Our recent negotiation of affordable Area 2 and Commuter permits has not improved our overall access to parking at UConn, nor is it the cause of the current chaos. However, our situation does provide insight into the pervasive nature of these parking and transportation issues. Our parking passes may have changed, but parking areas were also re-allocated, with a lack of transparency. Shuffling a small number of parking spots around will not resolve the larger problem.
Students, staff, and faculty need reliable parking and transportation systems to ensure reasonable access to campus. We need solutions that accommodate the real schedules and experiences of all constituents. Regardless of whether the campus was originally intended to accommodate thousands of commuters each day, it does now. A walking campus can be a fantastic design, only if it is paired with a robust, reliable transportation system that is accessible to all and considerate of the effects of inclement weather.
Concerned GAs and our allies call on the administration to find solutions that consider the needs of all parking constituents. Thousands of students and employees arrive on campus every day, and without our arrival, UConn simply would not function. In order for us to carry out important work that supports UConn’s mission, we need to be able to get to where we are going. We also call on university leadership to join us to push the legislature toward more investment in critical state services like our university when it reconvenes in January.
Member, Graduate Employees Union (GEU-AUW Local 6950)