The real problem with parking

GVL / Emily Frye
Grand Valley students and faculty fill the parking lots on the south end of campus on Aug. 31, 2016.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Grand Valley students and faculty fill the parking lots on the south end of campus on Aug. 31, 2016.

Emily Doran

In recent years at Grand Valley State University, few issues have generated as much controversy as the supposed parking shortage. With an ever-growing student body and a number of drivers violating parking regulations, GVSU has had to implement a number of strategies and updates in order to accommodate compliant drivers who have had difficulty finding available spots.

According to the GVSU Police Department, there is not an actual shortage of parking spaces on campus. Rather, according to the GVPD, the supposed lack of available spots is in fact due to drivers parking illegally and using spaces that would otherwise be available for drivers who have permits.

“The people that are creating the problem are the people that are just trying to come to campus without a permit and taking away (spaces) from those that are compliant,” said Renee Freeman, chief of police at the GVPD. “Our parking program was put in place for compliance so we had enough places for people to park and could keep it orderly, instead of people parking wherever they wanted. That’s the purpose of the permit program.”

Lisa Garringer, parking services manager at GVSU, agreed a failure to comply with parking regulations has indeed been the cause of the supposed shortage.

“There were not too many permits issued (last year), that was a misconception,” Garringer said. “What basically happened is that you had people who weren’t purchasing parking permits taking the places of people who had purchased (parking permits). At no point were we ever in an oversell situation for the parking spaces that we have versus the number of parking permits that we sold.”

In order to address the difficulties with available parking, a number of changes and strategies have been implemented this semester. First, GVPD will increase its vigilance in upholding parking regulations.

“We’re amping up our enforcement,” Freeman said. “We want our students to be citation free, we really do, which is why we’re trying to educate them.”

Several policy changes have been made as well, effective this month. Students will no longer be able to obtain temporary parking permits free of charge, for example. In addition, the costs of various parking violations have also increased.

In order to avoid issues with parking, students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the GVSU Transportation Services.

“We don’t encourage freshmen to bring cars to campus because we feel that we have this incredible transit system,” Freeman said. “It can take you anywhere.”

Students, faculty and staff can ride on any Rapid bus free of charge, as long as they have a valid GVSU identification card.

“The university would love to see people use the transit system,” Garringer said. “It’s an affordable option for our students. They can park their car off-campus (and) ride the bus onto campus.”

For the convenience of commuter students who do just that, a couple of changes to the GVSU Campus Connector route have been made. A stop at the Walker Fire Station has been implemented, as well as a stop at Seward Drive Northwest and Lake Michigan Drive Northwest.

Parking space on the Allendale Campus has also increased with the construction of Lot B where the Ravine Apartments used to stand, adding 390 more parking spaces.

GVSU Parking Services is also starting on a new campaign titled #GVParkPositive. As part of the campaign, students will be able to enter into drawings for GVSU gear starting next month when they submit a photograph displaying positive parking.

“It’s about changing the perception of parking on Grand Valley,” Garringer said. “And it is really about positive interaction.”

“Parking isn’t always going to be convenient, so driving around in circles in (Lot) C or G is a waste of (students’) time when they can go park in (Lot) H or B,” Freeman said. “(Students) have to be mindful, give themselves a little bit of time, plan ahead and understand that that two-minute-more walk that they may have really isn’t that much.”

For more information about parking, including updates and walking times from various lots, visit