Explaining the GVSU Parking Crisis

Bradley Schnitzer

Parking complaints have been heard at Grand Valley State University for years, but parking has become a hot topic of conversation among students this fall. Often, I hear someone talk about how they dropped almost $200 on a parking permit only to not be able to park anywhere on campus. Another complaint is all the ticketing that occurs in GVSU parking lots. While I think the whole situation is kind of ridiculous, I can see how some of the annoying aspects of parking at GVSU can be justified.

These complaints go hand-in-hand, and they are not entirely the university’s fault.

With the ever-expanding student body, there are naturally more and more students who bring cars to campus. In order to keep parking available for those that buy passes, GVSU has to raise the price of passes in order to discourage people from buying them. Perhaps those people who can’t afford them or don’t really need them can find other means of transportation, whether it is riding the bus, carpooling with a friend or riding a bike.

This would leave passes available to those who truly need them and can afford them, freeing up parking. While raising the price to exclude less well-off students from purchasing passes seems mean, it is necessary. However, this price raise didn’t really solve the problem, since people don’t like to follow rules that appear unjust. This brings us to the next two problems.

So many students decide that they don’t need a parking pass and park on campus illegally anyways. The whole point of the increasingly expensive parking passes becomes essentially moot at this point. All of those people who followed the rules and bought passes are unable to find parking because illegally-parked cars are taking their spots.

GVSU naturally combats illegal parking by heavily enforcing parking tickets. This temporarily alleviates the problem by deterring some people who can’t afford parking tickets from taking spots reserved for those with passes. However, this can spill over to perhaps guests to the campus, who park in a reserved spot without knowing that they need a pass, and then getting a ticket. Students who accidentally break a rule that they don’t know of can be affected by this as well. Some students will even continue parking unpermitted anyways and take the tickets that they get.

A possible solution to the parking crisis is to not allow freshmen who live on campus to own cars. Yes, freshmen will complain, but many schools employ this policy. For example, at the University of Michigan, freshmen and sophomores can’t apply for parking permits. We could limit that to only freshmen at GVSU, and so much space would be freed up.

Just think about it. The majority of freshmen live on campus and can walk to their classes in 10-15 minutes max. Not allowing them to bring cars opens up spots for upperclassmen that live off campus to park and get to class on time. For those times when a car may seem necessary, a bus can usually serve students well.

Nobody likes their privileges being banned or taken away, so if the students don’t want the school to limit their options, then the students themselves need to either not bring a car and use other forms of transportation, or shell out the big bucks for a parking pass.

Like I said before, I think the whole parking situation is ridiculous, but there’s a reason that this is a problem.

Hopefully, students can see that it’s not entirely GVSU’s fault that parking is the mess that it is. Sure, they did make some mistakes in terms of admitting too many students, but as a student body, if we followed the rules more, most of the problems would correct themselves. We can’t just sit around and hope the problem will go away; someone has to take initiative or the problem will only worsen.