UNA officials attempt to alleviate parking woes

Junior Michael Bramlett raises his wheelchair to put in the bed of his truck, but cannot due to the concrete overhang present in some handicap parking spaces in the parking deck.

Officials say they might have a solution to concerns students raised about blocked parking spaces on campus.

SGA President KeKoria Greer said she is working with public safety officials to establish a process for notifying students when at least 20 to 40 percent of a lot will be blocked during normal class hours.

“I sat down with them to start somewhere,” Greer said. “My biggest thing is all students don’t check their emails — we know that. But still, they need to be notified. If email is the way to start, we need to start via email. The biggest thing is students need to be notified if a certain percentage of a lot is blocked off.”

Interim UNA Police Chief Mark Parker said nothing is final, yet, but he is working to develop a firm policy.

“This is not in policy,” Parker said. “We are way back in the discussion phase. I’ve got to talk to other officials it will affect. Student Government is one of those groups we will continue to discuss this with.”

He said he expects notifications will not be issued for blocked parking in lots with fewer than 10 spaces.

“I am already going ahead and trying to make notifications about significant parking space blocks,” he said.

Greer said the plan is UNA Police will notify students via email 24 hours before blocking a lot. In the case of a last-minute situation, they could send the email as little as 12 hours ahead of time, she said.

Earlier this month, a petition started on Change.org and flooded social media after 70 spaces were blocked in the parking lot between the GUC and the Communications Building. Public safety officials said the spaces were reserved beginning at 6 a.m. March 31 for a President’s event scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

At that time, authorities said they had no choice but to block the spaces, while students said doing so 12 hours prior to an event is a little too early.

Senior Arielle Jones said the lot between the GUC and Communications Building begins to empty around 3 p.m. and is usually vacant by 6 p.m.

The petition’s creator, sophomore Emily Jones, said she is pleased with the plan officials are developing for notifying students of blocked spaces in the future.

“They used to give people notification,” she said. “When they block those spaces students have to spend 30 to 45 minutes looking for a parking space, and I thought it was important to make sure they understood there was a problem. People won’t be happy, even if they are notified, but at least they will know the university understands their problems.”

Greer said she hopes students will utilize the off-campus parking options and shuttles that can transport them to campus.

“We know parking spaces are going to be block for events, so for when that happens, we are working on getting the GPS systems fixed for the busses,” she said. “We really hope students will use them.”

She said she is working with public safety officials to update the systems so students will know where the shuttles are located at all times.

“I have been late to class because I could not find parking,” Arielle Jones said. “Teachers tell us to leave for class earlier, but if the spots are taken when we get here, leaving early does no good.”

She said she signed and shared the petition Emily Jones created.

“I am signing because parking should be the least of our worries, and the safety of our vehicles are also at stake,” said freshman Logan May on the petition. “The police pay more attention to writing tickets for parking violations, instead of paying attention to our safety around campus. Parking is ridiculous, and I should have a guaranteed spot on campus if I’m paying $10,000 per year.”

Emily Jones said she hopes students see any voice can make a difference in campus issues.

“I don’t know many people on campus, and I wasn’t sure if my petition would reach anyone. But, with the help of social media, I was able to get over 300 signatures. My concerns were not only heard, but shared through comments and signatures.”