The Great Parking Problem

Photo by Michael Rouleau - Empty parking spots at Goddard lot

By Michael Rouleau

Worcester State University is a great institution that provides a variety of enthralling courses and enriching activities for its students. Recent improvements such as the Sheehan Residence Hall and the brand new Wellness Center help to highlight the qualities of this evolving campus.

However, there’s a lingering issue the school has yet to sufficiently address: parking.

The university’s website states that it has an undergraduate student population of 6,471. According to U.S. News, about 70 percent of those students live off campus.

This situation has persistently created severe problems, as students that can’t find spaces in the insufficient parking lot quickly spew onto Chandler Street and the surrounding areas. In fact, parking has become such a problem that some students have resorted to arriving several hours before the start of their classes to ensure they’ll find a spot.

“You get here after 8:30 a.m. and you’re screwed,” said Kay Paradis, a student at Worcester State University. “I have an 11:30 a.m. class and I have to get here before 8:30 am. It’s ridiculous.”

This gives students little room for error in their arrival times and discourages them from engaging in any activity away from the campus. If they have some form of job before a mid-day class and hope to find a parking spot half an hour prior to class, they’re likely out of luck.

When searching through the school’s web page on parking, there was little information about expected wait times for available spots or advice about arrival time. Instead, the page states that as “campus renewal continues, available on-campus parking may fluctuate.”

Fluctuation implies some form of change, whereas the parking issue at WSU has been a constant form of aggravation for the past few years.

Two years ago, there was a plan to transform the land next to the Chandler Magnet School into a new parking lot and two new soccer fields. This plan fell through, however, after public outcry against the paving of fields and greenery in an urban setting.

Regardless of who was in the right, the situation highlights a clear acknowledgment that parking has been a problem for multiple years and continues to elicit complaints from students.

In an email to WSU students, Student Government President Monica Bhakhri stated one of the major goals of the SGA is to assess the current parking situation at the university, listing it at the top of areas for improvement. No solution has yet been offered, although if the Chandler Magnet plan is any indication, any proposal will likely face difficulties in both planning and execution.

The simplest solution would be to allow the Goddard lot, a parking area reserved for on-campus residents, to be accessed by commuters. Commuters would then use the shuttle which already travels between the lot and campus to reach their classes. However, this solution presents issues of its own.

The university sells parking decals to residents who wish to have a car on campus. These decals provide access to the Goddard lot, but are limited in availability.

“I went to the police department and tried to get a residential pass, but I was unable to get one because, apparently, the spots are all filled up,” said Noah Aurelio, a resident at Worcester State University.

While it remains unclear whether all parking spots in the Goddard lot are actually being used, trips to the location on several occasions revealed large sections that were completely empty.

Photo by Michael Rouleau – Rows of empty parking spots at Goddard lot

“The entire time I’ve been here I’ve never seen the lot full,” said Ben Smith, a resident who has now had his car on campus for the past two years.

It is important for residents to be able to access personal transportation when they need it, but it is also important that all available parking spots be used as efficiently as possible. If the Goddard lot has available parking, perhaps the university can use it to begin to provide some resolution to the parking problem on campus. 

Other solutions would most likely require large amounts of creativity and effort. While it may be difficult, availability of parking spots should be a priority for the university moving forward.

College already presents many challenges for those who dare enter its domain. The heavy workload, 

high difficulty courses, and the impending doom which is adulthood are sources of almost unbearable stress and challenge for students. Even so, college is imperative in the mental and spiritual development of its students. The last thing that should be standing between them and this transformation are two yellow lines with nothing in between them.

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