Parking on campus and in Appleton is no easy task for students. With the increasing presence of students who want to have cars on campus, parking spots for students are extremely limited.
What does a student need to do to get a campus parking spot? Once per term, there is a parking lottery. First, they must register their vehicle and apply. Many students who enter will not get a spot. Priority in the lottery is determined by class year; therefore, freshman and sophomores are often excluded. Once they receive a lottery spot, they pay a fee of $75 to park on campus for one term. Smaller lots like the one at Big Exec fill up fast, forcing people to park across campus in the Hiett or Colman lots. If they are unlucky, all the spots on campus are full; people with lottery-won parking privilege are sometimes not able to park on campus at all. This is because students or Appleton residents without lottery parking permits take advantage of the open system and park in lottery-designated parking.
The freshmen and sophomores who are rejected from the parking lottery are relegated to 1) parking in the city lot for $5 per day, 2) buying a monthly parking pass for the local parking garage for $30-35 a month 3) re-parking their cars twice per day, moving them from staff parking before 7:30 a.m. and returning them to staff parking before 12 a.m. because parking on the street overnight in Appleton is illegal, 4) making the trek to the Banta Bowl parking lot or 5) leaving their cars at home and relying on the campus shuttle. These options are inconvenient and expensive, and make many students feel frustrated. If students are caught parking their cars on campus without a registration sticker, they may be ticketed or towed.
Having a car on campus allows students a variety of otherwise unavailable opportunities. Some students rely on their cars to go to medical appointments or work off-campus jobs. Cars give students freedom to travel home and visit new places. A car may help a student feel safe at night in Appleton while going from place to place. It is important for students of all class standings and needs to be able to drive their cars, and it is important for them to have accessible parking on or near campus.
Parking spaces are not just a concern for students. Faculty should not have to compete with students for spaces, and visitors—especially prospective students—should not have to spend much time searching for a space. Last summer, Lawrence University constructed a new faculty and staff parking lot (the sixth on campus) next to Memorial Chapel. While this is a step in the right direction, the problem remains unsolved.
One reason Lawrence discourages students from keeping cars is their negative environmental impact. Lawrence does a great job of promoting environmental sustainability; when the Warch Campus Center opened in 2009, it was praised for preserving nearby green spaces.
To reduce emissions, students may carpool or take the Lawrence Shuttle, and there are public buses that run to Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis and Chicago. Students can rent bikes at the Info Desk to run errands on College Avenue and get some exercise.
The Lawrence shuttle, while a great idea in theory, is often more of a nuisance than a convenience for the students who need it. The schedule is inaccessible and not well-publicized, leaving many students unable to figure the days and times the shuttle runs. Additionally, because of the shuttle’s limited seating, if more than a certain number of people need to take the shuttle at any given time, someone will get left behind and have to wait for the next trip. On the other end of things, if more than this number of students need to return to campus from the Fox Valley Mall, a second shuttle must be sent out to collect everyone, which can add up to an extra hour to the trip. These little things, when considered altogether, add up to make the shuttle an unreliable mode of transportation for those who have time-sensitive engagements.
Even with these alternatives, the current parking system is frustrating to everyone. The once-per-term parking lottery needs to be revamped to guarantee parking spaces for students with the greatest need, regardless of seniority. A possible solution to the parking shortage would be to have assigned parking spaces. If a student had one specific marked parking spot that only they were allowed to use, it would eliminate the need to search in vain for an available spot.
According to the Lawrence University website, those with questions about the parking lottery should contact the office of the Dean of Students.