Parking on Campus

Alexi Knight, Assistant Arts & Leisure Editor

The silence has gone on long enough. We can’t avoid it any longer. We have to talk about the parking situation here at Bates.

“Not the parking situation!” you plead. But yes, it’s time to discuss just how abysmal the availability of student parking is on campus. If you’ve ever come back from a fast food run late at night on a weekday (be honest with yourself — we’ve all been there), you know there’s nothing worse than circling the block on Wood Street looking for a spot on the street just large enough to parallel park in. I would do literally anything if it means not having to park in the Merrill Lot, as far as it is from where I live in Rand. (In fact, I have — several times, I’ve parked so far down Wood Street that I’ve had to venture into off-campus territory). 

Of course, we’re in the worst of it now; between Dec. 1 and Mar. 31, we’re only allowed to park on one side of the street. It’s practically a bloodbath when it comes to racing to open spots, and the situation becomes even more dire when the city announces an inclement weather-related street parking ban. Never have I felt in stronger solidarity with my friends than when one of us frantically texts the group chat warning others to find a spot in a parking lot before a ban so no one gets a ticket. But even when spring comes around and the snow melts, there still won’t be enough parking for everyone.

I propose a possibly controversial but effective solution: sorry first years! No more cars for you. This may sound a bit hypocritical, as I did have a car my first year at Bates, but as I’ve spent more time on campus over the past few years, I’ve come to realize that this is the only answer to the problem. This would open up just enough room to mostly ensure that sophomores, juniors and seniors will always have a spot to park their cars. And if I’m paying an additional $136 every year to be able to park my car on campus, I want to ensure that I’m always going to have a spot (more specifically, one where I don’t have to walk for what feels like an eternity from Merrill to Rand in the -20 degree weather). 

While this may seem controversial, it is simply a reality for many other college students. At least four NESCAC schools (Bowdoin, Williams, Connecticut College and Hamilton) don’t allow first year students to bring cars; Amherst and Wesleyan only allow it on an individual basis, in which case students must meet with Student Affairs to be approved for a parking permit. Both of these options are strategies that we could consider here at Bates, and they may be just the trick to putting an end to the parking war on Wood Street.