2022 or 1984? The Bates Parking Ticket Dilemma

I remember it like it was yesterday. A frigid walk to the village parking lot turned even colder when I approached my car. I had rolled the dice the night prior, so to speak, when I left my car in the guest lot. I was not the only one to make this gamble; even the guest lot had nearly been overflowing. My heart sank as I unlocked the door and noticed an orange slip wedged in the handle: a parking ticket.

This was hardly the first time that orange paper had weaseled its way into my life. I have butted heads with parking enforcement from time to time over the course of my time at Bates. However, this ticket in particular really just pissed me off!

As outlined on the school website, Bates students have the ability to park in one of six spaces on campus: Merrill, Village, Wood/Vale, Wood St., Chu and JB. To investigate the practicality of these parking spaces, I estimate that there are roughly…

  • 200 student spots available in Merrill
  • 50 student spots available in Village
  • 20 student spots available on Wood/Vale
  • 20 student spots available on Wood St.
  • 25 student spots available in Chu
  • 25 student spots available in JB

*I tried to overestimate some of these lots slightly

That gives an approximate total of 340 student parking spots available on campus. We can call it 350, to be safe, and because it is a little bit nicer of a number. In a school with an enrollment of about 1,800 students, the 350 students using the parking spots make up for 19 percent of the Bates student body. 

This begs the question of how many students have a car on campus. I walked around commons asking people what they thought the percentage of students with vehicles was on campus. Some students said 30 percent, others said 70 percent, and one said 62 percent (what an oddly specific estimate). All the responses I received indicated one overarching truth: it is definitely more than 19 percent.

It seems clear to me that there are more student cars on campus than parking spaces. Other NESCAC schools and generally around the country, place limitations on who can have cars on campus. An example of this limitation would be policies regarding restricting freshmen from bringing vehicles to campus. Apologies to my freshmen audience, if I even have one, but if you weren’t allowed to bring your car to campus, I would not be $30 in the hole right now.

I recognize that parking spaces don’t grow on trees and they cannot just make them appear out of thin air, but there is a serious excess of cars at this college. Anyone who has a car on campus understands the pain of leaving for five minutes and having your spot taken immediately. Perhaps we have been too inclusive to the freshmen class, and we should strip them of their ability to bring cars. Who knows! For now, though, I just need to scrap together $30 because I, along with dozens of others, parked in a guest spot overnight.