Student combats commuter parking options

Commentary By
Devin Wood

The University Parking Services department sent out an e-mail to every student with a parking permit on Feb. 23.

Most of the e-mail contained reminders of the standard terms that all permit holders agreed to. The aspect of the e-mail that was concerning regarded commuter student overnight parking. “Commuter permits are not valid for overnight parking. If you find you must leave your vehicle on campus overnight, you must notify parking services or the U/S Police office and obtain a temporary pass for overnight parking.”

This policy gives rise to a few issues.

The most important issue is commuter safety. Many students work on assignments well into the early morning hours, and I have personally worked until one or two in the morning for many days straight during a semester.

This study habit is afforded to commuters by the 24-hour access to the first and second floors of the Weinberg Memorial Library. Unfortunately, the roads are not safe to drive that late at night. Aside from the inherent dangers of late-night driving, the student poses a risk to themselves and other drivers due to sleep deprivation.

This issue cannot be taken lightly when numerous studies have indicated that sleep deprivation can be as detrimental to driving ability as intoxication. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that at least 100,000 accidents a year are related to fatigued driving.

I understand that The University does not want commuters “crashing” – sleeping over- in friend’s dormitories. However, the policy to prevent that is handled by Residence Life. All guests are required to fill out paperwork to stay in a dormitory for the night.

The policy issued by Parking Services is unnecessary and reckless. As a commuter, I would need to get an overnight parking pass from the University of Scranton Police office each night that I intend to work late on assignments. If I do not retrieve a pass, I would need to move my vehicle to a parking meter on Linden street which does not have enough meters for commuters who work late.

Furthermore, I doubt that Parking Services would allow repeated use of the overnight pass. All of these issues result in commuters being forced to leave campus early or to drive home late in the evening while fatigued.

Of course, The University may not see a problem with commuters going home early. However, as students who pay to have the same access privileges as our dorming peers, this policy seriously impedes our use of the facilities in ways that dorming students would never tolerate.

I doubt that this was the intention of such a policy, but it certainly makes me, as a commuter, feel like a second class student.

Commuters have every reason to work in the 24-hour access section of the library as do their dorming peers. When their work is finished for the night, they should not be required to seek permission for their vehicle to remain in a commuter parking area.

Furthermore, commuters who decide to imbibe with their friends should not be forced to choose a parking violation ticket or driving home. When someone is intoxicated, they cannot be expected to make the smart decision especially with a penalty held above them.

The discretion to remain safe and sleep in the library, or in a private vehicle, should be left to the person who has to drive that late at night, not to somebody who is already at home, likely in their own bed.

This parking policy is an unnecessary burden, and a possible danger, to commuters who are working hard.

Do you think that a resident would gladly retrieve a pass to stay in their own dorm each night? No. So why should anyone expect a commuter to seek a pass to leave their vehicle, their only access to campus, parked overnight?