Parking continues to be an issue

By Masudur Rahman

Senior Reporter

Though the school year has just begun, new students are likely to have already discovered one of Oakland University’s most frustrating truths: parking can be really hard to find.

One such freshman was Amanda Sager, who said that she was late to her first class by 15 minutes because it took her a long time to find a parking spot. “I had no idea the parking lots would be so full,” she said. “I’m going to have to start driving to school much earlier.”

Returning students also felt the pinch of the traffic, but some, like junior Carl Rothenberg, said that their previous experience helped them to avoid being late. “I’ve been commuting here for three years now,” he said, “so I pretty much know where I can find parking any time of the day.”

Visiting several parking lots on Thursday, it was apparent that many students have taken to parking illegally to try to either save some time or to walk less distance. This trend apparently did not go unnoticed by the OU Police Department.

OUPD told The Oakland Post that between Aug. 30 and Sept. 7, exactly 200 parking tickets were given out to violators.

However, OUPD Lt. Mel Gilroy said, this year there were fewer violations and fewer tickets given out than there were during the first week of the 2007 fall semester.

Between Sept. 1 and Sept. 11 in 2007, a total of 321 tickets were given out, with the cost of

the fines totaling to $6,750.

Gilroy also said in the first two weeks of every semester OUPD tries to direct commuter traffic so that “students don’t waste their time looking for parking in the wrong places at the wrong times,” and that this year OUPD officers didn’t have to spend as much time “directing traffic and writing tickets” as they had to in previous years.

Putting yellow police tape around the edges of the lot behind Science and Engineering Building is one measure the OUPD has taken this year to try to prevent people from parking illegally on the grass. Gilroy said they have put the tapes around P-1 for years.

Gilroy said that after the first two weeks, the parking situation always “settles down” as new students find their rhythm.

He also said that as the semester goes on, OUPD finds fewer and fewer parking violators, but that when the “first bit of nasty weather comes along, some people start to try to cheat a little bit and park illegally so they don’t have to walk the extra couple of minutes.”

There were several construction and repair projects worth more than $3 million undertaken this summer on campus. Although some parking lots were repaved, no new lots were added.

OU Director of Media Relations Ted Montgomery said, after meeting with student leaders last year, “parking expansion was not stressed as a priority,” and that higher priorities were given to things like “lab/classroom upgrades, deferred plant renewal projects, moving career services, etc.”

Montgomery also said that despite OU’s expected student body growth and stagnant number of parking spaces, “there is no way that there are more drivers than there are parking spaces” during any given time at OU.

“There’s never a time when there’s zero parking,” he said. “It’s just a matter how convenient it is.”

Montgomery’s claim was verified by The Oakland Post when Post staff visited several parking lots on Thursday between the peak hours of 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. By 9:30, the parking lots P-1 (the main lot), the lot in front of Vandenberg Hall were almost completely full and the other residence halls, the lot behind Varner Hall, P-41 and  P-32, among others were also highly congested.

There were many open spots in the three-story parking structure by the Rec Center and in P-3 (the “Pioneer Overflow” by the intersection of Squirrel Road and Walton Road), while P-11 (the lot by the Upper Athletic Fields) was completely unused with the exception of three cars.

“P-11 is the hidden secret of OU,” Gilroy said, “and someday, 245 people are going to find it.”