GVSU student senate hosts parking public forum

Drew Schertzer

Each semester, representatives from Grand Valley State University’s Parking Services try to meet with concerned students. They answer a barrage of parking-related questions many students commonly ask through surveys, phone calls or in person. 

This semester, Chief Renee Freeman of the GVSU Police Department and Julie Carbine, the customer service coordinator for Parking Services, met with about 20 students in an open forum hosted by the GVSU student senate. The event took place Monday, Feb. 20, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Room 2266 of the Kirkhof Center.

During the public forum, Freeman explained the questions many people from the GVSU student senate had, along with any questions brought to their attention. One misconception students had was about parking at night.

“Everything isn’t open at night,” Carbine said. “From 5 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Monday, any space is available that doesn’t have a meter, handicap or any other type of sign in front of it.”

Carbine said assigned parking spaces wouldn’t be possible in GVSU’s lots because the permits are designed around areas. She said academic parking is near living centers, and commuter parking is near school buildings. Carbine explained there is a lack of space for everyone to park right in front of their classes and homes.

“This is a walking campus,” Carbine said. “We encourage students to walk, bike and enjoy the fresh air of the campus.”

Freeman said GVSU puts a lot of time into deciding what the costs are going to be for parking passes. She said they don’t just play rock, paper, scissors to decide what the prices will be but rather use a complex system. She said GVSU looks at other colleges with similar environments and sees what their prices are. For example, a commuter pass is $175 a semester at Central Michigan University and $200 a semester at Eastern Michigan University, compared to $200 a semester at GVSU.

Another idea students shared was the possibility of a parking structure on the Allendale Campus. Freeman said the cost of this would be too large, and GVSU doesn’t want students to have to pay more for parking. Land owned by GVSU can be turned into more flat lots if needed, Freeman said. Freeman also doesn’t think GVSU will run out of spaces anytime soon, not even with more students coming to the school each year.

Next year, there are currently no space reallocations prepared, Freeman said. However, permits do change every year, and Freeman said the prices will most likely fluctuate upward. GVSU also does not intend to add more buses on the weekends because it wouldn’t be cost efficient, Freeman said.

The meeting concluded after an hour-long Q&A session. Freeman left the audience with her thoughts on parking at GVSU.

“We want to keep our environment safe here,” she said. “Parking always gets pushed more outward, and we want to care (for) you guys, but parking services has a cost associated with it.”