Just when it seemed campus parking couldn’t get any worse…
Stony Brook University changes the parking situation nearly every semester. Living in Chavez or Tubman Hall last spring showed anyone who resided there who the real priority at this university is: the faculty.
There is an entire lot right behind Tubman Hall which would be extremely convenient for students if SBU didn’t decide that this semester, the entirety of the lot would be reserved for faculty. Stony Brook students said their piece last semester via Instagram on the account @sbuparkingsucks, stating how wretched the parking situation was.
Mobility and Parking Services (MAPS), the group in charge of parking, claimed that they care about our feedback, but what did students get in return? Students lost the entire parking lot in front of Chavez-Tubman, Mendelsohn and H Communities (known as Zone 5), and this practical parking lot was replaced with the lot across the street, further away.
Not only did Stony Brook take away Chavez-Tubman parking, they also took away Mendelsohn, H Quad and free commuter parking, replacing it with commuter premium parking which requires a parking pass that students have to pay $112.50 per semester to use.
It is clear that SBU couldn’t care less about the student-to-faculty ratio being 19:1. Most students in Tubman and Chavez own cars, and Stony Brook is largely a commuter school.
Things wouldn’t be nearly as enraging if all of these new lots for faculty and commuter premium parking weren’t always nearly empty. That alone is evidence enough that the faculty doesn’t need this parking the way the students do, because finding parking is difficult. Yes, they have to come to campus almost every day, but residents are here all day, every day with no real escape, and there are way more of us. We pay thousands of dollars to live on this campus and even more to live in buildings like Chavez-Tubman, just to be without the most accessible parking option.
Resident Assistant Gianna Bahr (RA) in Tubman Hall is spending their first semester in Tubman, and they had a lot to say about the parking situation.
When Bahr heard about the student-to-faculty ratio being 19:1, they chimed in saying, “Well if that is the case, then parking should be distributed with that ratio in mind.”
I decided to take this comment to heart and figure out what the student-to-faculty ratio is for parking on this campus. In total, we have 42 lots on Stony Brook campus, not including our research and development park or South Campus. Faculty has access to 13 of these 42 lots, while residents can only use four. Of these four, all of them have some sort of faculty access within them. That is about a 1:3 ratio in terms of parking. There is clearly a very wide discrepancy between the amount of parking that students need and the amount of parking they are receiving.
“There should be more residential parking near residential spaces,” Bahr said. “The faculty members don’t live in any of these buildings. We pay a lot of money to live on this campus and we don’t even get parking near our housing.”
Almost 50% of Stony Brook students are commuters. I am not a commuter, but I can’t imagine the level of frustration when those who are finding out that premium parking has gone from being free to being $112 in the span of one summer.
Commuters used to be able to park in North P and near the gym. They are now forced to park in a lot that is the furthest it could possibly be from campus — South P — and this is the only lot they get for free. Whether or not people are paying for parking is up for debate, given that I have never seen more than a handful of cars in these commuter premium lots. Back when these lots were free, they were constantly full during the week. Now, these college students clearly don’t want to have to pay for something that was previously free.
These changes feel motivated by money and show little regard for the students. Students pay a large sum of money each semester that they may not have on hand just to park in the same lot that was free not even six months ago. South P is extremely inaccessible, as it is about a 10-15 minute walk or bus ride from campus. What about disabled students who need accommodations but do not have the $112.50 a semester to pay for parking?
According to an email from Stony Brook, the decision to move Zone 5 further away was justifiable because the parking lots are “less than 0.3 miles away from any of the residences.” Not only is this incredibly insensitive to disabled students, but it does not address the impact on disabled commuters who have to walk to their cars, nor does it excuse inaccessible parking.
Stony Brook administration needs to take a long, hard look at where their priorities lie on campus. Being back on campus was supposed to be a fresh, happy start to the new academic year, but students are upset, and they have every right to be. At the bare minimum, commuters should get their free lots back and residents should be able to have at least some accessible parking near their living spaces.
How are we expected to pay tuition, room and board and all of these little fees that get tacked on without getting decent parking? The faculty are paid to be here; we are paying to be here. There is a distinct difference. Stony Brook needs to put their students first if they want their school to continue to do well in terms of morale on campus this academic year.