What good is a parking permit if we can’t park?

There have been multiple instances at Linfield when students have been required to vacate parking lots in light of non-Linfield events to make room for visitors. These actions raise the question of who the school should give deference to in irregular parking situations.

The two most recent occasions were the closure of Founder’s Way for the 50-Year Club Luncheon on May 5 and the closure of the Vivian A. Bull Music Center and Ford Theater parking areas May 1 for the OSAA State Solo Contest.

Regarding the solo contest, students were told in an e-mail sent by Director of Linfield College Community Public Safety & Security Robert Cepeda that any vehicles left in the area after 8 p.m. the night before the event could possibly be towed.

It seems odd that students who pay $85 for yearlong parking permits are displaced so often by visitors who are in no way connected to Linfield. Shouldn’t the paying students be given priority in a large majority of parking situations?

Some students rely heavily on parking lots such as the one by Ford Theater and, while this may be only a minor inconvenience (if even that) to many, it is a major inconvenience to some. Those students pay for that convenience, so shouldn’t it be afforded to them as often as possible?

Students are told they can simply find someplace else to park for one day, but couldn’t visitors do so as well in most instances? When we have a need for extra parking, the students paying for parking should have priority, to an extent.

In an interview, Cepeda said students should take a more realistic approach to the situation.

“We have to consider that we are a community,” he said.

Cepeda said the whole community is inconvenienced, and we should be asking what is best for this community rather than what is best for students as individuals.

He also said that we should consider the impression we make on members of the community or other nearby areas when we tell them they can’t use our parking areas.

Cepeda raises some important points. We certainly don’t want to let our microcosmic thinking get the best of us and set Linfield on a pedestal above any and all outsiders.

However, we feel that, although it may seem somewhat selfish, students are entitled to the conveniences they pay for. We don’t mean to play the “poor college student” card, but, in reality, many of us are cheap, and when we pay for something, we expect to get exactly what we pay for. And when students pay for a parking permit, they rightfully expect certain parking privileges.

Now, this does not mean students can’t or shouldn’t make concessions in certain cases every now and then. But to decide when and where to make such concessions, we need established guidelines.

The most closely related policy to this issue is on the parking section of Campus Safety’s website (www.linfield.edu/campus-safety/parking.html), “vehicles on Linfield property may be towed due to extenuating circumstances. Efforts will be made to contact the responsible person … to move a vehicle prior to the department having them towed.”

This policy is effectively executed, as Cepeda said great efforts were taken to contact students who had left vehicles parked in the area the night before the solo contest. Actually towing student vehicles is a last resort; when student vehicles are towed, they are taken to the nearest available parking area. And LCCPS pays for the towing service so violating students do not have to pay.

This is all good, but even Cepeda admits it could be coordinated better. He said he tries to utilize parking as effectively as possible when visitors come, sometimes even denying long-term parking to visitors who clearly do not need it. But sometimes he receives requests for lot closures the day before, making it difficult to coordinate effectively.

We need specific guidelines that determine how to proceed when faced with possible lot closures. Even broad guidelines would do as long as they are there.

Cepeda said there is no set-in-stone policy, but also warned that while some things should be in writing, not everything should.

Although we don’t necessarily need one hard and fast policy, we should at least be discussing the possibility of imposing certain guidelines so students are not arbitrarily told where they can and cannot park. This is an important question in light of the many lot closures we have experienced this school year.

Cepeda seems to be taking an active role in this matter, as he discussed many parking issues at the ASLC Senate meeting May 3. He said he aims to find where to “give and take” in terms of parking, which is a good step forward.

But he should not be the only one moving forward. We all need to take part in this discussion, students, faculty and administration. We all park (at least those of us with cars do), and parking is far from perfect, so let’s all work together to at least make it better. We know there is a solution out there that would minimize inconvenience and frustration for as many members of our community as possible.

Students should not simply be kicked out of parking lots whenever some outside organization decides to hold an event here, but we should not close ourselves off to the community, either. By working on setting up guidelines, we are confident that an appropriate balance can be found.

-The Review Editorial Board

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