Freshman veterans petition for on-campus parking

Students can find signatures around campus of people rallying around advocating for veterans the university classifies as freshmen to park on campus.

Veterans Affairs is collecting signatures of students in support of this. They will gather all of the signatures and present them Nov. 2 in Student Government Association Senate. If Senate approves this, a resolution would go to the Parking Shared Governance Committee and Shared Governance Executive Council, said SGA President Hugo Dante.

All of the petitions are expected to contain around 1,000 signatures.

Two SGA Senators, Seth Callahan and Rachel Smith, are sponsoring this resolution.

Dante said in order for freshmen veterans to have a commuter tag allowing them to park on campus, Shared Governance Executive Council would have to issue a new policy.

If this policy goes into effect, the university will begin issuing commuter tags to freshman veterans in fall 2018.

As of 2015, the university required all freshmen to live on campus except in a few circumstances. Veterans are one of the groups who are not required to live on campus.

Veterans Affairs Vice President Joseph Dailey said there are currently around 50 veterans who are classified as freshmen, and this number is expected to grow as the university begins promoting veteran friendly status.

He said Veterans Affairs Specialist Michelle Dailey started pushed for military-friendly status on campus and having parking for veterans is a requirement for this.

Dailey said many of the students who are veterans have injuries that make walking from downtown difficult on them, but they do not have enough of a disability to qualify for handicap parking.

“We are not asking for any special treatment,” Dailey said. “We just want the opportunity to compete for parking like every other student.”

Senior Chris Whitt said he does not support a designated lot for veterans because of the limited number of spots, but he fully supports giving all veterans the opportunity to park on campus.

The majority of veterans at UNA are non-traditional students. The average age of veterans classified as a freshman is 30-years-old, Dailey said.

Dailey said there is a 59-year-old man who has to park in downtown because he is still classified as a freshman.

Freshman Hammy Webb said allowing freshmen veterans to park on campus is the least the university can do.

“They are veterans, (and) they served all,” Webb said. “They earned their position to be able to park on campus. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for veterans. Without them, no one would have a parking spot.”