Proposal passed for freshmen commuter parking


Leon Ono

The parking lot of the Connie D. McKinney Center is one of the lots freshman commuter students will be able to park in if the new parking proposal is passed.

Alex Hopper, News Editor

 A proposal by SGA Vice President Kayla Walton, seeks to allot more commuter parking spots for freshmen at UNA. The proposal has been supported by SGA, Faculty, and Staff senates at UNA. 

Currently, all freshman commuters are required to park off campus and utilize the University’s bus system. The university offers several park and ride lots for students to board the buses. 

This system was established in 2011 and, according to the proposal, many students have been dissatisfied with this policy. 

Some students see that this policy was put in place to encourage freshman commuters to live on campus. 

The university explains that this policy relieves parking issues and encourages on-campus involvement. 

According to Molly Mathis, director of institutional research at UNA, found that 45.6% of all freshmen were commuters. There were 281 freshman commuter permits while there were 623 freshman enrolled as of 2020. 

The proposal began in 2018, when Walton was a member of Freshman Forum. The original purpose was to allow for all freshman commuters to park in any commuter spots. 

With already limited parking for all commuter students – 2735 permits to 5778 eligible commuters – adding freshmen to the fight for parking did not bode well. 

The Parking and Traffic Committee passed the proposal unanimously but the SGA, Faculty, and Staff senates turned it down. 

Walton continued to push for the proposal and find ways for freshmen to park on campus at UNA. 

“I still believed my work was not done,” said Walton. “It was still an issue on campus that needed to be addressed.”

Walton then brought the new version of the proposal to the SGA senate. 

This new iteration would allow freshman commuters to park in specific lots on campus. 

If passed, freshman commuters would now be able to park in lots M,O,W, and the Connie B. McKinney Center lot in white lines.  

Lots M and O are located behind the Mitchell Burford Science and Technology Building and Lot W is accessible from N. Cypress street. 

Though these parking lots are not in the heart of campus, they provide free parking for freshmen who wish to use it. 

The new proposal has passed in both the Parking and Traffic Committee, SGA, Staff, and Faculty senates. 

SGA wrote in the proposal “that the availability of freshman students to park on campus will improve the experience for first-time students and will offer convenience for students who have off-campus responsibilities.”

“Additionally SGA believes parking on campus may contribute to freshman commuter student’s safety.” 

SGA argued that students who have off-campus jobs, family matters, etc. should be able to travel off-campus freely and safely. 

It has now been sent to President Kenneth Kitts for final approval. If Kitts approves then the update will be revised in the student handbook. 

Freshman commuters will then be able to park in campus parking lots during school operating hours. This will surely change freshmen’s experience their first year at UNA. 

One freshman commuter, Rachel Ford believes this new proposal needs to be enacted. 

“As a freshman commuter, finding parking that I’m allowed to park in has been a struggle,” said Ford. 

“I do think it is needed. I often have to park somewhere far away from my destination on campus so having the option to park in certain areas on campus would be super beneficial.”

Without on campus parking students must park in city parking spaces around campus and risk running over their meter. 

Many of UNA’s peer universities have no distinction between commuter and freshman commuter. 

These universities include University of Alabama Huntsville, University of Alabama Birmingham, University of Mississippi, and Auburn University. 

The peer universities that choose to not allow freshmen to park on campus, like Liberty University, have over 100,000 students compared to UNA’s 8,000. 

As it stands now, 600 UNA freshman students are not permitted to park on campus. 

“Freshman commuter students pay tuition and fees like fellow full-time and Early college students who have parking privileges,” wrote Walton in the resolution. 

If this new proposal is passed by President Kitts, the new resolution will come into effect next Fall semester.