‘No Parking At Any Time!’ Frustrations about Chatham’s parking will only get worse

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Jackie Clark

No parking sign displayed at Chatham’s Eden Hall campus Photo Credit: Jaqueline Clark

Jackie Clark

In a small, sloping campus like Chatham University, parking is essential. Students and faculty need available parking to arrive on time for their classes and leave quickly to free up parking spaces for others. However, the limited number of parking spaces has created consistent issues for students.  

On the first day back in the fall term, the Shadyside Campus library parking lot was congested to the point that valets were parallel parking cars behind the cars in the parking spaces. Students and staff had to wait for a valet to move their cars before they could leave. 

Kaitlyn Collins ’23 described her attempts to park as “miserable.” On one day, she was at least 20 minutes late for class as she attempted to find a parking space.

shortage of parking spots
On the Afternoon of Sept. 15, cars were double-parked by valet in the Library lot due to shortage of parking spots. Photo credit: Lilly Kubit (Lily Kubit)

“I only got a spot because classes had just let out,” Collins said. 

As of Monday, Sept. 12, Chatham students must display their current Chatham University permit for their vehicle to be parked on any University properties. While parking enforcement may reduce congestion, it is worrisome that the first two weeks of the semester are plagued by this pattern at the Shadyside Campus. 

The current number of parking spaces on campus doesn’t seem to be enough to accommodate the growing student body in the first two weeks of classes before parking enforcement begins.  

Between all three campuses, “693 student permits and approximately 300 faculty and staff permits have been sold,” said Donna J. Grossi, Chief of Chatham Police. 

On the Shadyside Campus, students have access to 13 different parking areas with 506 available spaces, which can increase to 546 with valet assistance.  

Mass-distribution of parking permits at Shadyside ended on Aug. 31, two weeks before parking enforcement began. The lack of parking enforcement meant that students bought parking permits but were not guaranteed parking for those two weeks. 

The congestion for the first few weeks is expected, Grossi said. “Historically, this pattern is not new, and we have allowed additional time for students to acclimate to the start of the academic year.” 

Carlee Shreve ’23, a resident assistant in Woodland Hall, voiced her frustrations with the lack of on-campus parking. 

“Parking off campus is incredibly frustrating,” she said. “You run the risk of getting a ticket and having to be late from walking back to campus, which completely defeats the point of buying an on-campus parking pass.”

On the first day of classes, her car was hit in the tightly spaced Terrace parking lot. There were no security cameras to identify the person who hit her car. No student should be having these issues when there are solutions.  

Chatham’s limited parking spaces is something that should be addressed as the undergraduate population continues to expand. New parking spaces may need to be built, and sooner rather than later. Chatham may also need to prioritize who is able to buy parking permits first. Prioritizing out-of-state and commuter students for parking passes would mean that those who need a parking space the most will be the first to get a permit. 

“The campus needs more parking spaces,” Collins said. “A limit of parking passes could work, but then you are taking away parking from some students who need it.” 

The Chatham undergraduate body has expanded over the years and will likely continue to increase since it is an objective of Chatham’s latest Strategic Plan. If parking is an issue now, it will only get worse as more students and staff require parking. 

The last thing that future students want to stress about is their inability to find a parking spot on campus. Chatham must make adjustments to accommodate the growing student body – now and in the future.