News, On Campus, Top Story

Students, Faculty Voice Growing Concerns Over Parking

In order to park overnight on campus, Boston College students must pay $630 a semester. The parking spaces available to them are in the Beacon Street and Comm. Ave garages, and the Mod Lot, Edmond’s Hall lot, Shea Lot, between Gabelli, immediately adjacent to 66 Comm. Ave., and behind Rubenstein Hall.

Michael O’Connor, LGSOE ’18, noted that this year the prices were increased by 11 percent with no warning from the University prior to receiving his bill. While the rise in price was a disappointment, what bothered O’Connor was the lack of communication from the University that such a change was going to take place.

“I get that sometimes fees increase,” O’Connor said. “But for me, there was no communication. There was no real saying as to why it was happening.”

Jennifer Tanglao, the Graduate Student Association executive director, said that the issues of rising prices and limited parking spots have been brought to her attention mostly through informal conversations.

Tanglao met with the Department of Transportation and Parking last semester to learn more about on-campus parking. In the meeting, she said, the department explained that the prices were raised by 10 percent to offset the loss of over 300 parking spots due to construction. It also estimated that the prices would continue to increase by 10 percent each year.

After this information was relayed to the GSA Senate, it decided to write a formal letter to BC Transportation and Parking to express concerns regarding price increases, Tanglao said. She indicated that the department was willing to work with them on the issue and to consider their concerns about graduate student parking.

“I do have a sense that the competition for parking spaces is intensifying. If one is not in the garage by 9:30 AM, one is out of luck.”

-Professor Brett Ingram

When students receive a pass, O’Connor explained, they do not get a single spot. Instead, there are designated floors within the garages that graduate students who have a permit may use. As a result, he said, it can be difficult to find an open parking space.

Many graduate students need parking, he said, because they are often commuting from off campus—many of them are parents who need to drop their children off at school, while others go to work before coming to class.

When O’Connor was in his first year at BC, he would walk to BC from his house in Brighton Center. It was not practical, so he began to park on campus.

Jessica Albert, LSOE ’18, has parked on campus for the past two years. She first obtained a permit her freshman year because she needed to use it to get to her PULSE placement. After emailing the University and having her PULSE supervisor sign off on a form saying that she was indeed working there, she was able to get the permit.

Albert lived on Newton Campus and said that it was relatively easy to park there because all of the parking lots surrounding the dorms were available to permit holders. On Lower Campus, however, finding a parking spot is not so easy.

“It’s impossible to find a spot,” she said.

Many students who live off campus, she said, park in the Mod Lot during the day. As a result, Albert tries not to move her car during the week or else, she fears, she will lose her spot.

Another issue that students who park on campus face, Albert said, is when there is a snow storm or on game days. If it snows, the students parked in the lots must move into the garage. And if there is a football game, students must move their cars to Newton the night before.

Often, the parking lots run out of available spaces, so students will park in any extra space, whether it is a designated spot or not. As a result, many students receive parking tickets.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Albert said.

She believes that BC needs to make more spots and allow students to park in the two parking garages.

Similarly, Ian Wyllie, MCAS ’18, was able to obtain a parking permit his freshman year through the disabilities office. Because he applied and received the permit midway through the semester, he did not have to pay for the entire semester.

In the spring of last year, Wyllie applied for a permit for 2015-16 and was told there was no way he could get one. He had heard from upperclassmen that it was difficult to obtain one. The rumor among students, Wyllie said, is that there is some sort of lottery system in in place, because some people are granted a spot, while others are not.

“It’s a mysterious process,” he said.

His older friends, however, advised him to look for a place to park off campus. He now parks his car in a driveway that he rents at the same rate as BC’s rates. He sees it as beneficial because the spot is close to his room on College Road, and he does not have to move it for game days or snow removal.

“I know a lot of upperclassmen also ask their friends who live off campus if they can park in their driveways,” Wyllie said.

Grant Brutten, MCAS ’18, also vied to park off campus because he did not have a medical or academic reason to have his car on campus, and therefore did not think he would be granted a permit. He also knew that parking off campus would be less expensive.

“If I had the opportunity to park on campus, I definitely would,” Brutten said. “It would just be much more convenient.”

Lindsay Hogan, a communication professor, has been parking on campus for nearly three years. She has a ‘G’ pass, which costs $184 per semester. The permit allows her to park in the Commonwealth Ave garage, which is conveniently located next to her office in Saint Mary’s Hall.

At the other universities where she taught previously, including the University of Wisconsin and the University of Texas at Austin, there was no parking available to faculty, she said.

“The parking is one of the things that I love about BC,” Hogan said.

Although the faculty has to pay for a parking permit, the prices are reasonable, Hogan said, and it allows faculty to commute into school.

“We’ve got it pretty good,” she said.

Brett Ingram, a communication professor, has also been parking on campus in the Comm Ave garage for three years and has noticed that parking has become more difficult.

“I do have a sense that the competition for parking spaces is intensifying,” Ingram said in an email. “If one is not in the garage by 9:30 AM, one is out of luck.”

Ingram drives to school because he lives in Belmont and cannot use public transportation to get to BC. Sometimes when he cannot find a space in the Comm Ave garage he has to park in the Beacon garage, an inconvenience that adds significant travel time to his commute.

The University, Ingram said, should consider expanding the number of parking spaces faculty can access. Many of the spots in the Comm Ave garage are reserved for those who hold the most expensive permits, he said, but those spots rarely fill up.

The Department of Transportation and Parking declined to comment on the issue. The 10 Year Master Plan includes plans to add 350 parking spaces to the Beacon St. Garage and 500 parking spaces on Brighton Campus.

“It would be ideal if BC could offer more flexible options in parking passes and ensure that those who have paid for parking will have enough spots available for them to use,” Tanglao said in an email. “Additionally, BC should keep in mind that increasing the cost of parking on campus is making it very difficult for many graduate students who are already struggling financially.”

Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Staff

February 10, 2016

The Heights is an independent student newspaper that relies partly on donations to continue its award-winning coverage of Boston College and beyond. During College Media Madness, consider supporting the 501(c)3 nonprofit.