Many students and faculty members at McDaniel College have been encountering problems with parking on campus due to the low availability of parking spaces, the costs involved in the process, and possible violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
According to Josh Bronson, assistant director of McDaniel College Campus Safety, parking permits prices vary depending on students’ year. First-year students pay $200 for a full year, and sophomores, juniors, and seniors pay $150.
Bronson said that tickets are issued if students park in a parking space where they are not supposed to park, or if they park in college property without a parking permit. The first ticket costs $30, the second $40, and the sixth ticket can cost $150 plus the probability of being towed and loss the privilege of parking on campus for an entire year.
Bronson also said that this year’s first-year students had the opportunity to apply for a lottery where 100 students were given the permission to park on campus for a full year. Campus Safety offered this opportunity to first year students because they found in a study that the McDaniel campus had 100 open parking spaces available. Bronson said that there are many parking spaces available at the North Village parking lot and Harrison parking lot.
“When people say there is never any parking, usually means ‘there is never any parking right by my building,’” he stated.
According to Bronson, McDaniel College Campus Safety asks for students to register their car if they want to park on campus. This ensures that students have a parking space. Also, if something happens to their car, campus safety knows who to contact.
Emily Wendler spoke via Facebook about the parking availability on campus by explaining that there is never parking when she returns from her job in the evening. She was issued a parking ticket because she parked in faculty/staff parking one night.
“You either have to park along the grass and get a ticket or park in faculty parking and get a ticket,” said Wendler.
In response to faculty/staff parking, Bronson said that students can park there; they just have to move their car in the morning.
Bronson also explained that Campus Safety offers escorts to students from the parking lot to their dorms or apartments if they do not want to walk alone late at night.
In terms of daytime parking, Trevor Hammond voiced concerns about a ticket that he received.
“I got a ticket at the beginning of the year because I parked in the commuter lot,” he said. “It’s stupid though because at the time I was one of the few with the 2013-14 permit and everyone else was driving around with old expired ones who didn’t get fined.”
Rollin Mills is one of those students who did not pay for a parking permit but was never issued a ticket. He explained, “I never got a ticket because I used a visitor’s pass until the end of the semester. There was no way I was paying for those things. We already shell out a lot of money and barely see where it goes.”
Bronson said that the issue with parking availability comes from students who do not register their car and still park in the campus’ parking lots; this limits the parking spaces.
In terms of the price, Bronson said that big universities charge a lot more money than McDaniel and sometimes students have to take a shuttle to get to their cars.
He also explained that “what you are paying for is to have parking on campus and not having to find parking on the streets.”
Janet G. Medina, Associate Professor from the Education Department commented on the lots behind Merritt Hall.
“As I look out my window right now at 3:30 PM on a Wednesday afternoon, from just behind the building, all the way down to the field, I can spot maybe 4 open spaces,” said Medina.
Medina is concerned about whether McDaniel is adhering to the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The ADA requires that buildings have a minimum of handicap-accessible parking spaces available. For example, “a parking lot with 400 total spaces needs eight accessible spaces, and two of those eight spaces must be van-accessible” (ADA National Network, http://adata.org/parking ). Also, parking spaces must be as close to building entrance as possible.
Medina asked, “Is McDaniel College meeting the letter of the law?”