Michelle Adams, Deputy Executive Editor
Parking is an issue on campus on every day of the school year, but after Winter Storm Jonas struck Winchester with four feet of snow a few weekends ago, the once-annoying problem became an all-out catastrophe.
Students spent upwards of half an hour driving up and down parking lots, scaling from the dormitory lots to the parking garage, with no luck of finding a vacant space. Despite the hard work of the Physical Plant employees, snow covered many of the spots, and residential students, who were instructed to move their cars to the parking garage for the storm, failed to return them to the residential lots when classes began.
“They…weren’t able to clear enough spaces,” said senior English major Maggie Todd. “I don’t know if they just didn’t have enough time or if there was nowhere to put the snow; there just weren’t enough spaces for students.
“I obviously don’t know what it’s like to be an administrator and to make the decision to open campus, but I think that with this past snowstorm, even just an extra day to try to get just a few more spaces cleared would have been really helpful, because the parking was just not okay,” Todd continued.
Parking was such an issue that sophomore music education major Olivia Crass recalls a piano professor cancelling class from the parking lot because there were no parking spots. Many students, like Todd, were late to class as a result.
“I finally ended up just sitting in my car, close to the entrance of the parking garage, with a few other people, and as soon as a space would empty out, I just made my way in there,” Todd recalls, “but I ended up being about fifteen minutes late for class, even though I had gotten to campus early.”
There was also an issue of students getting blocked in at the Armory Lot near Halpin-Harrison Hall, with cars not allowing ample space for students and staff to leave once they did find a spot, an existing issue that escalated when the lot became covered in snow.
Many students took to social media to express their concerns about the ongoing parking problem.
“I parked in a [expletive] snow bank today,” a student on Yik Yak complained. “The least they could do is shovel out the parking spaces.”
Anticipating the issue, senior Caitlyn Friday tweeted, “can’t wait to not find a parking spot tomorrow,” the day before classes resumed.
Grace Eisenhauer, a senior music production and recording technology major, is looking to the future on Facebook, saying, “If I ever make enough money to become a Shenandoah University donor, I’m going to donate money for the sole purpose of building another parking garage.”
Administration continues to deny the issue altogether, claiming that 60 to 70 spaces were available midday on Feb. 1, the Monday following the storm, but it is unclear where these spaces were located (some students are rumoring they were by Shentel Stadium). During the first week back, the City of Winchester did allow students to park in Jim Barnett lots, but these spaces were very limited and did not solve the problem.
Looking to future snowstorms of this caliber, students have offered several solutions, including prohibiting freshmen from having their cars on campus.
“You would also be giving them the opportunity to get really involved with campus life because they’re going to be on campus – maybe new clubs would form. There are positive things that would come out of that,” Todd suggested.
To avoid upsetting freshmen students, some have suggested implementing a new parking pass that would limit residential students to certain lots (and vice versa for commuters), and possibly even building a new parking garage for only residential students.
Parking is a huge concern on campus that administration cannot continue to ignore, but because of their failure to address the issue in the past, students are not optimistic about the future.
“I think as Shenandoah continues to build and we have all of these wonderful new buildings coming, we also need to think about parking,” Todd concluded.