By the time sophomore biology major Celeste Breeden Blankenship gets to campus in the morning, almost all of the parking on main campus — where all of her classes are — is full.
“I have classes at 9:15 [a.m.] and 9:40 [a.m.], and I cannot get a parking spot unless I get to campus by 7:30 [a.m.],” Breeden Blankenship said. “Why are parking passes $300 when we can’t even park anywhere?”
As the 2021 fall semester begins, many students have found themselves with an interesting, yet all too common, problem — the inability to find parking where it’s needed on campus.
Integrated science and technology major Ryan Buellesbach said that although most of his classes are on East Campus, he usually needs to park near the College of Business — in the Newman Lake area — and walk the rest of the way.
“I don’t think I have been able to park on the East side of campus once,” Buellesbach said. “I’ve started to leave earlier so I can plan for a few minutes of walking, knowing I probably still won’t make it to class on time.”
Buellesbach, a junior who’s been driving on campus since his freshman year before the pandemic, doesn’t recall parking ever being as bad as it’s been these past few weeks. For people like Kaitlyn Rainville, a senior architectural design major who doesn’t have morning classes on campus, the lack of parking is amplified.
“I have an online class in the middle of the day that I would like to go home for, but then I have to go back to campus afterward and I know that I won’t find a parking spot,” Rainville said. “I just need to sit through my online class while on campus and hope that my computer doesn’t die.”
For some students, even just getting to campus can be an immense challenge.
“The biggest issue that I’ve had has been the traffic congestion surrounding campus and actually being able to get on to campus,” senior intelligence analysis major Kelley Kropff said.
Ben Lundy, field operations manager of JMU’s parking services, said in an email that last school year, due to the pandemic, a special exemption was made to buy a campus parking pass for any freshman who wanted one. This year, Lundy said, with the exception of a few students with special circumstances, the freshman parking rule that restricts freshmen from having cars on campus has been reinstated.
Lundy said in the email that “at no time has all student parking on campus been full” this semester. He suggested that students park at lots on the periphery of campus, as those tend to have the greatest consistent parking availability. For students looking for parking, he suggested the Ballard Deck on East Campus, the Convocation Center parking lots, the R3 Lot, R17 Lot and R18 Lot near the Warsaw Deck, the C13 Lot and R9 Lot at Memorial Hall, and the R2 Lot near the Newman Lake campus entry gate.
“It should be noted that Sept. 1 is the first day that student permits were required in student parking lots,” Lundy said.
According to JMU’s parking regulations, parking regulations are enforced “24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
Ginny Cramer, assistant director of media relations, said parking services has the ability to enforce parking regulations year round, but gave a grace period so students could obtain a parking pass.
Lundy expects the demand for parking to decrease in the coming weeks — although for many students, that decrease can’t come soon enough.
“I wish that the school would put the money from my parking pass towards building another garage rather than doing something like painting the road yellow and purple,” Breeden Blankenship said.
Contact Alex Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.