The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


OPINION: Valet parking removed, leads to nightmare at Chatham’s Shadyside campus

Growing pains are still prevalent on the Shadyside campus after valet parking has been cut
Leyna Laurent
Cars park at Jennie King Mellon Library parking lot.

On Aug. 30, 2023, students and faculty at Chatham University’s Shadyside campus received an email informing them that daily valet services in the Jennie King Mellon Library parking lot will be discontinued on Sept. 15.  

Chatham University’s Shadyside campus is infamous for its limited number of parking spaces. One of the most popular and convenient places to park on campus, thanks to the valet service, is the Jennie King Mellon (JKM) library parking lot. Not only does this lot offer the most parking spaces on the Shadyside campus but it is also close to where the majority of classes are held.

One of the reasons for terminating the valet service, as claimed by the University in the school-wide email, is due to “the limited number of extra spots it created.” In my opinion, the valet service added considerable value to campus.

The number of parking spaces added with valet may be considered, by some, to be proportionally limited, but they are clearly valuable. Any number of extra spaces are spaces for students and faculty to park in, resulting in less stress for everyone who drives to and parks on campus.  

Another reason, as stated in the email, for terminating the valet service is “the less than ideal experience it provided those who use the service.” Personally, I have had nothing but great experiences with the valet service employees. On my first day of school, when I returned to my car, I was very concerned that my car had been blocked in. Before I could begin to panic, one of the valet employees kindly asked me if my car had been blocked in and promptly moved the car that had been blocking me in. Besides moving cars, the valet employees have stepped in to assist me in backing out of very tight parking spaces.

In the email informing the Chatham community of the discontinuation of the valet service, alternative parking locations were suggested. In fact, a sign has been put up in the JKM library parking lot advertising the shuttle service that is now being provided for those students who choose — or have no other choice but to — park at Chatham’s Eastside campus. 

Despite being located only a little over a mile away from the Shadyside campus, parking at Eastside may be more of a hassle than it’s worth for many students. Many students, including myself, drive past Eastside on their way to class. Having to turn around and double back to Eastside after being unable to find a spot to park on the Shadyside campus can add a lot of time to one’s commute, besides being super inconvenient. 

In addition to the option of parking at Eastside, students have the option of finding off-campus parking. Most of the streets around campus have time restrictions of when and how long people can park there. Many of these streets are parallel parking only, which can pose a challenge for anyone, let alone young adults who have only been driving for a few years. Shadyside does offer a few parking lots for those who are unable to parallel park, but all these parking lots require a fee to be paid to park there. None of these lots are particularly close to campus either, with most being a hilly, 20-minute walk away.

During my several tours of Chatham’s Shadyside campus, it was shown to me that Chatham does have limited parking, but the daily valet service makes parking here much more feasible. Personally, my commute to campus is about 25 to 35 minutes, depending on traffic. When the valet service was still in effect, I only had to leave my house around 40 minutes before my class was scheduled to start. 

Now, I have to leave at least an hour before class is supposed to start. I like to give myself this extra time just in case that I have to find parking elsewhere. As someone who works as late as 10 p.m. a few nights a week, my sleep is vital to me. Having to leave my house 30 minutes earlier means that I am getting 30 fewer minutes of sleep. 

My final college decision came down to two colleges. The first is located just a five-minute drive from my house and offers plenty of parking. Attending this college was the practical choice for me to make, but I just didn’t connect with that institution as I did with Chatham. Despite being quite the commute, I made the ultimate decision that attending Chatham was worth the 30-minute commute. What I did not anticipate was the task of also having to find my own parking.

As someone who is paying $305 for a parking permit, I expect to be able to park on campus, not on the streets. For college students who are already paying thousands of dollars to attend an institution, $305 is a lot of money. Those of us who are able and willing to spend that kind of money for a parking permit should be guaranteed an easily accessible spot to park on campus. 

By removing the crucial valet service, Chatham is directly taking away the value of the parking permit. Asking us to still pay $305 with the very good possibility that when we arrive on campus, there isn’t a spot waiting for us is a huge kick in the face. Every time I see the sign suggesting that if the lot is full, we park at the Eastside campus and take the shuttle over, I wonder what the point of paying for a parking permit is.

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About the Contributor
Leyna Laurent
Leyna Laurent, Lifestyle Editor
Leyna Laurent ‘26 is a Communications major with a concentration in journalism. Originally from the South Hills of Pittsburgh, Leyna decided to transfer to Chatham from Coastal Carolina University after her first year, pursuing a more intimate and community-focused academic experience. Chatham University's proximity to home, inviting campus environment, and small-scale setting made it the perfect fit for her. Leyna is a contributing writer for the Communiqué, but outside of the newsroom, Leyna’s passions include indulging in a variety of music and film. Leyna can be reached at [email protected] or @leynalaurent via Instagram.

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