Editorial: Removing sophomore permits doesn’t fix parking

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A recent announcement from Rowan University declared that in an effort to solve its ongoing problem with providing enough parking spaces for students, it will be applying the same rules to sophomores as it does to freshmen. In the end, Rowan has claimed to have solved its problem by telling a part of those affected to get lost.

The new rules mean that only sophomores with off-campus jobs or those who need a car for medical purposes are allowed to buy permits to keep a car on campus. The university said in a Rowan Announcer that the move is expected to free up as many as 700 parking spots.

University spokesman Joe Cardona described the decision as “needed” to make room for the growing student population. In addition to the 700 newly-cleared spots, the announcer noted that 220 spaces in the recently-opened lot on Ellis Street will help alleviate parking difficulties as well—though it makes no mention of earlier promises that the lot would be expanded to 600 spaces at a later date.

The parking issue isn’t new at Rowan. Even when the university was beginning its master plan for expansion, parking was still hotly debated. In 2014, The Whit was doing the same reporting it is now, with a major investigative piece on parking and the shuttle service driving the last issue of 2015’s volume. In 2016, we reported that the university was combining residential and commuter lots to ease the trouble of finding an appropriate spot. New garages on Mick Drive were supposed to go even further to solve the problem.

All of this adds up to it not being much of a surprise that the university is still trying to figure out how to get parking for the student population, which it keeps pushing to grow. But the solution that it seems to have decided on isn’t much of a solution, but more of a brushing off.

It’s a strange fix that the university has settled on. In response to students asking for more parking spaces, the university has essentially answered by telling them that they could park at home if they aren’t happy with the parking that’s available to them.

But the move surpasses being just confusing and lands closer to being misguided and damaging to the underclassmen population. For example, consider that, unlike freshmen, sophomores often live in apartment-style housing and are not required to have a meal plan. Those students would usually use their cars to get to the grocery store to buy food for the coming weeks, but will now presumably have to hitch a ride with a friend or walk to the store more than a mile away. Worst-case scenario, those students are forced to go without a meal or two until they can find transportation, or until the ShopRite shuttle leaves campus on Fridays.

Unlike schools in more urban environments, Rowan isn’t surrounded by robust public transportation options like the metros and subways of New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. There aren’t many options for getting around other than buying a car and keeping it on campus. So by restricting sophomores from having cars, the university is cornering another part of the population onto campus during nights, weekends and holidays.

What’s worse yet is that this comes after years of the university adding buildings where lots used to be. Despite owning the open fields of the technology park and West Campus, Rowan continues adding buildings where former parking lots existed and bending the available resources to their breaking point. With so much available space, it seems strange that the university continues to claim there just isn’t anywhere to put new lots.

For those students who can still park on campus, they might see some of their headaches go away as more spaces open up. But the fact remains that Rowan is solving a problem by telling part of the people suffering to pound sand. It’s like solving overcrowding by demanding that half of the population get out. Sure, the people left might be happy with the result, but can we really say the problem got solved?

For questions/comments about this story email editor@thewhitonline.com 

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