South P_Stock Photo
The South P lot at Stony Brook University is the main parking lot for commuter students on campus. STATESMAN STOCK PHOTO

On the morning of Monday, Feb. 22, I arrived at Stony Brook University at approximately 9:05 a.m. and entered through the south entrance on Nicolls Road. I could immediately sense that something was wrong because traffic was worse than normal, and I saw an enormous fire truck rush to campus. As I progressed on South Drive, I saw that Marburger Drive was completely blocked off because of a car fire. Therefore, the cars and buses could not get to campus, and were being re-routed to Nicolls Road.

Panic ensued and my mind raced as I tried to conjure up a plan to get to class by 10 a.m.. I called 631-632-2886 (2-AUTO) to try to ask what I should do, but nobody answered the phone. I left a voicemail message, hoping that someone would get back to me soon.

I re-entered campus from the north entrance on Nicolls Road and tried to park in the commuter lot by the sports complex. However, to no surprise, this lot was full. I saw that there were spots in the faculty parking lot, but I knew I could not park there because I would receive a parking ticket and have to pay a minimum of $30, which I cannot afford.

I tried calling 2-AUTO again, and there was still no answer. My panic escalated as I frantically searched for a parking spot. North P Lot was full and there was nobody to help or advise me.

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I had no other choice but to park in a metered lot and pay $7.50 for the day — which severely cut into my lunch money. Before I paid the meter, I called 2-AUTO again, and somebody finally answered the phone.

The woman on the other end was not helpful and wanted to rush me off the phone. She told me to just park in a metered lot and pay. When I expressed that I could not afford this, she transferred me to a man in parking enforcement who was extremely rude, condescending and sarcastic. He told me it was just “too bad,” and that there was “nothing he could do,” that I had to pay the meter and park there for the day. At the end of the call, I sarcastically said, “Thank you for your help.” His response? Laughter.

It is truly a shame that I called for help, and finally, when I got through after about a half an hour, I was laughed at and treated disrespectfully. I firmly believe that I should be refunded the $7.50 I was forced to pay to park. I emailed seven email addresses that are listed on the parking services web page, and no one responded.

Unfortunately, this disastrous experience is typical at Stony Brook University. Let me start off by addressing the parking meter situation. The school claims that they only accept credit cards at the meters now because they want to be “green” and prevent workers from driving around to collect money from them. Yet they still have parking enforcement cars driving around campus all day wasting gas and polluting our air.

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Furthermore, now that the meters only accept credit card payments, you have to pay in increments of $1.50 per hour. Hence, if you have an 80 minute class, you have to pay $3.00 for two hours, instead of $2.25 for an hour and a half. This needs to be changed. The meters should allow you to select exactly how much money you want to pay.

More importantly, the amount of commuter parking that is available needs to be addressed. Stony Brook University is largely commuter-based, and yet the parking here is atrocious. New buildings keep appearing, and yet, there are no new parking lots. Commuters get ticketed for parking in faculty lots, but we park there because there are no commuter lots for us to park in. Also, there are residents that live on campus who abuse the commuter lots and leave their cars there.

I have to arrive at campus one full hour before my classes start just so I have enough time to park in the South P lot and wait on line to take the Express Bus to campus.

Soon, I will be starting a new marketing research internship in Great Neck, which is over one hour away from campus. I will be traveling to this internship both on my way to and from class. I shouldn’t have to worry about being late for both class and work because of the commuter parking on campus.

Also, I currently work on campus as both a student assistant and a teaching assistant, but still am unable to obtain a faculty parking permit. If I wanted to park by my job, I would have to pay the meter — literally pay to go to work. The situation has escalated so horribly that if I could afford to transfer to another school, I would.

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Stony Brook University’s current parking procedures are not enough for commuters, and changes need to be made. Students come to Stony Brook University to learn, not to worry and stress about the lack of parking and the abundance of parking tickets.

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