It’s not a parking problem; it’s a walking problem

By Katie Wolf

How close do students need to park to their on-campus destinations? 50 feet? 200 feet? These are the choices that Oakland students face every day upon arrival to Oakland University’s constantly growing campus. Some have learned to accept any parking space as a gracious gift no matter how far the walk to class. Others have observed and absorbed the patterns of the commuters, thus predicting what parking spots will be open and at what times. However, for the vast majority of the student body — and anyone else who parks a car at Oakland — it is a daunting task to find adequate parking around campus at all.

So what’s the solution? Isn’t it obvious? We need to build more parking lots. Wait! I’m sure other options exist that require little to no money. As I recall, the U.S. is still in a recession and we need to spend wisely. The board of trustees has approved for new buildings to be erected with general bonds being issued to pay for them. What this means is that OU is borrowing to expand our campus. I am sure it is all safe and good but I would rather not add to the expenses of OU for a parking problem that does not exist.

That’s right. OU students do not a have a parking problem; OU students have a walking problem.

I’m sure many of you are thinking, “WHAT?” followed by, “I just rolled around the OC’s parking lot for 15 minutes before I had to stalk some professor down an aisle just to get a parking spot.” Don’t worry. Many parking spaces are available on campus all the time. You just have to be willing to walk a little extra.

Consider the following: Our campus is very small in comparison to other state universities. One can walk from one end of campus to the other in just 10 minutes. Now, imagine if our campus was as big as the University of Michigan or Michigan State University. We would, indeed, have a parking problem and I would be writing a column on pro-parking lot construction. Being that our campus has not reached this size yet, walking any extra distance does not seem completely unreasonable.

Some may say it’s cold and the wind-chill factor is unbearable this year. It is true. Michigan is not kind to those who venture outdoors during these winter months. To this complaint I have a remedy: Bundle Up. I’m sure most of you have been in Michigan for some time now. This is not the time for uncovered heads and gloveless hands. We know how crazy this state’s weather is, so come to Oakland prepared. You never know what day you’re going to have to settle for an inconvenient parking spot.

The main thing to remember — besides coming prepared — is parking spaces are scarce from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Don’t even try to park in front of the OC during these times. Same goes for the parking lots next to the Science and Engineering Building, Pawley, Dodge, Varner and Elliot. There are some parking lots that always have spaces available provided you are willing to take a longer journey to your destination.

Here are some suggestions: 1) If class is in Hannah Hall, Dodge Hall, or SEB, try lot P37. P37 is located on Pioneer Drive before Library Drive. 2) Looking to work out at the Rec Center, improve your musical talent at Varner or Elliot, drop your kids off at Pawley before a long day of teaching or learning? Look no further than the parking structure. The parking structure offers four levels of parking spaces and it’s optimal for winter-time conditions. 3) For those of you heading for nerve center on-campus (i.e., Foundation Halls, the OC, Graham Health Center, Wilson Hall), lot P3 is your best bet. Conveniently located across from GHC, lot P3 is rarely full and it’s right next to the OC parking lot.

These suggestions bring up an extra bonus health-wise. Walking 10 minutes per day contributes to healthy living. Walking a little further adds to one’s health not just physically but mentally. After all, it’s very frustrating searching for empty spots in crowded lots.

We as students, faculty and administrative personnel need to find a practical solution to this perceived “parking problem.” Building more lots is not the answer. We need to accept that walking is not evil, old-fashioned or problematic. I understand that most of us have tight schedules, but an extra 3-4 minutes of walking never hurt anyone. Look on the bright side; with my suggestions, OU saves money and people become more active.