Students struggle to find parking

A UNA student searches for parking in the parking lot behind the GUC.

The inevitable battle to find parking on campus happens almost daily for most students.

With construction of the Academic Commons Building starting and enrollment increasing, parking has become more limited.

But UNA will have 56 new parking spots by Oct. 1, said UNA President Bill Cale. These new spots come after 90 spots were lost due to construction this August, said UNA police Chief Bob Pastula.

Heather Simmers, a commuting UNA student, said she has started arriving on campus early just to find a parking spot.

“Parking sucks,” Simmers said. “Everybody knows that. It’s worse than usual this year. I’ve started getting to campus two or three hours before I actually need to, just to find a spot. It gives me a chance to catch up on homework, but it’s ridiculous.”

Simmers said she has gone to extreme lengths to get a parking spot before.

“The craziest thing I’ve done is hold up a long line of traffic on Pine Street,” she said. “I was trying to parallel park.”

UNA alumnus Scott Dyar faced parking problems while he was here, too, despite having a handicapped parking permit.

“I was already a junior when I started at UNA,” Dyar said. “I have a medical condition that essentially causes partial paralysis and makes it extremely difficult to walk.

“There isn’t enough parking at UNA, much less handicapped parking. UNA is a great school, but they have to find something to do about the parking situation.”

Dyar said that if he hadn’t been able to find handicapped parking for the majority of his undergraduate career at UNA, he doubts he would have been able to graduate.

“I wouldn’t have been able to make it to class half of the time,” he said. “I just can’t walk from the parking deck, and when they had the nerve to block off the corner of the communication parking lot and those handicapped spots, I didn’t have anywhere to park. It’s pathetic.”

Dyar said he spoke with authorities off campus about the lack of handicapped parking.

“The university obviously wants as many students as possible, but I don’t believe they have the infrastructure to support it,” he said.

When parking became an issue last semester, David McCreary, senior public relations major, and a group of students began calling themselves the Ribbon Cutter Club in response.

“We don’t want to break rules or be outlaw-type people,” McCreary said. “We just want to inspire other students to ask questions. Everyone always talks about how parking sucks, but we want to ask questions about what we can do to fix it.”

McCreary said university officials need to be smarter about blocking off parking lots in advance for university events.

“I think the university needs to pay attention to when they’re blocking off these lots,” he said. “Half of UNA is commuting and when there’s nowhere to park because a lot is closed at 8 a.m. for something that night, what are they supposed to do?”