New parking plan presented
Commuter students will have the opportunity to vote on whether a new parking plan designed by the administration will be put into effect next spring.
Liberty University’s administration met Friday to address the parking complaints voiced by students and to finalize a solution.
Because of the increase of students on main campus, parking issues have arisen primarily surrounding the commuter parking lots.
“At the beginning of the semester, we received many complaints from commuters who said they were searching for a parking space for 45 minutes or longer, causing them to be late for class,” Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said. “I asked the Provost to ask all professors to excuse commuters for any absences (or for being late) in the first three weeks of the semester, thinking that the problem would subside after a few weeks like it has every other semester.”
However, now nearly 11 weeks into the academic year, the administration has yet to stop receiving complaints, according to Falwell.
Richard Martin, who initially created the current parking process, said that the current parking problem is not only because of an oversell of decals per spot in the lots, but also a lack of students willing to walk a great distance to reach their vehicles.
“It seemed to me that, while there may be enough total spaces for commuters, the lots where commuters are allowed to park are too spread out across the campus, and it was taking commuters too long to find that open space,” Falwell said. “So, I came up with an idea a month or so ago to assign each commuter to a certain lot on campus.”
Currently, the spots in the commuter parking lots are oversold at a rate of approximately 1.65 decals per every one spot. With the new parking program initiated by Falwell, this number will drop to 1.2 decals per spot.
This is an advance that Martin said will increase the chances of finding a spot. However, he cautioned that students may still have to circle to find a spot, because unless the spots are sold at a one-to-one ratio, there cannot be a guarantee of an immediate parking spot.
It is a nationally accepted practice at colleges to oversell parking lots because commuter students typically attend classes at different times and on different days, Falwell said.
In the new plan, reviewed and discussed by Martin and other members of the administration Friday, the parking lots around campus will now be gated, and only vehicles assigned to the lot will be granted access.
According to Falwell, the lots will be chosen by holding drawings in which all commuters who have already paid the $300 annual fee will be assigned to one of the lots in which they are currently allowed to park. Students who are assigned to more distant lots will receive a refund of all or a portion of their Spring semester parking fee in Flames Cash.
Additionally, there will be a number of new lots placed along the perimeter of the university in hopes of on-campus students moving their vehicles in order to free up more parking for commuters, Martin said.
According to Falwell, on-campus students will be offered incentives, possibly including Flames Cash, to park their vehicles in areas on the perimeter of the campus Monday through Friday.
With the new spaces this will create, Falwell is sure that the parking issues that have been seen over the past 11 weeks will improve greatly if the new plan is put into place.
However, because it is commuter students who are, and will be, most affected by the change or lack thereof, Falwell said it is crucial that they have a say in the change.
“While we have received a fair number of complaints, that number is still a very, very small percentage of our commuting students,” Falwell said. “The only way we can know whether a large number of commuters think a change is needed for them to vote.”
Commuter students will be receiving an email with directions regarding how to vote within the next week, Falwell said.