On-campus parking presents problems for commuting students

Parking availability for Geneseo students, both on and off campus, has been a source of controversy. Limited and distant parking in particular have caused issues among commuting students. Their designated areas for parking are restricted to three lots and are the farthest down the hill on campus. Commuting senior Melissa Milke expressed her indignation over the parking arrangement for commuting students. “My argument is that we all pay the same price for a parking permit, so why do residents get closer lots than commuters do?” she said.

Geneseo University Police Department inspector Joseph Van Remmen, however, said that he does not feel that any distance disparities between residential and commuter lots are significant enough to cause a huge inconvenience for commuting students.

“Since the furthest that a commuter parks on campus is closer than the distance from Suffolk, I don’t think the parking is far away, really—if you think of it in those terms,” he said. He added that when it comes to parking proximity for students, “in comparison to other colleges, we do a really, really good job.”

Milke noted her frustration with the fact that while she may see open spaces in any of the eight resident lots that are situated closer to the heart of campus, she is technically unable to park in any of them simply because of her commuting status. According to Geneseo Parking Services website, the fine for parking in a “wrong lot” is $15.

“I shouldn’t get a ticket for parking in a resident lot … the student resident lots are usually empty, so I mean, if it’s already empty, why should they care if I park there?” she said. “I’d like to be able to park in any one of the student lots because, you know, we’re all students.”

Despite the “wrong lot” policy, Van Remmen explained that UPD tries to give commuting students as much leeway as possible. “Rarely do we ticket a commuter for parking in a student lot,” he said. “But we will ticket them if they’re parking overnight.”

Van Remmen added that one of the major reasons that commuting parking is so limited and at the far end of campus is because the influx of commuters can vary drastically from year to year. “The preference has always been toward the faculty and staff because we may have zero commuters for a particular class,” he said. According to Geneseo’s website, commuters only make up 1 percent of the student population, whereas the vast majority of faculty and staff members drive to campus and the need for parking spaces is a constant.

“There’s an agreement with the college as to where faculty and staff park and that’s been in place for years. It’s kind of recognition that it’s a contractual, negotiated item,” Van Remmen said. “We want [faculty and staff] to be there on time so they can teach everybody and we don’t want them driving around looking for spaces, so we want to provide spaces that are close so they can park.”

Many commuting students like Milke have tried to find parking spots off campus. Still, many of those spots off campus are metered or timed parking

“Since the semester started, I’ve paid three violations for parking meters. I got two in one day,” Milke said.

Van Remmen said that he understands the student perspective, but enacting real change with campus lots is a difficult challenge.

“We try to help everybody as much as we can, but the reality is that if we took away, let’s say, some parking lot to give to commuters, those people would then be complaining,” he said. He also added that adding a new parking lot would be costly financially—somewhere in the $10-20,000 range. It would also mean taking away some of Geneseo’s “green space.”

Van Remmen did add, however, that he would be willing to talk to commuting students about officially making some resident lots both resident and commuting if there was a collectively voiced issue with off-campus parking.

“I would be open to having that discussion with commuters if there isn’t enough parking off campus … but I don’t think that’s necessarily the challenge,” he said. “If it is the challenge, I would be interested.”