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University parking systems frustrate freshman students

A major frustration for the students at Ohio Wesleyan University is the new parking system which began this past fall. How does OWU’s parking system different from other schools in the area? 

Ohio Wesleyans parking is comprised of lots designated to students with either a North or South permit, based on where their residential building is located, commuter lots, or employee lots.

The first-year students at Ohio Wesleyan are required to park in first year lots which are farther from residential building as well as the academic buildings. Year-round parking permits are $175. 

Jessica Leahy, a freshman genetics major, talks about her frustrations with parking as a first-year student. 

“They changed the Smith lot from last year to not include first years which was really upsetting to hear. Maybe if they gave an option to buy specific lot passes or pay more to park at Smith. Or sell only enough passes for spots.” 

Baldwin Wallace, a division 3 university like Ohio Wesleyan, has more parking lots on their campus and a year-round parking pass is $70. Freshman, however, are required to park in the fairgrounds lot and are not permitted in campus lots. 

Lexi Smith, a freshman communication sciences and disorders major at Baldwin Wallace, discussed her opinion on the options at her school as a freshman as well as what she has heard from upperclassmen friends. 

“Freshmen have to park in the fairground, which is like a quarter of a mile from the dorms on campus. Not the ideal freshman walk, especially when it is cold and snowing. The parking options are ok. Although it sounds like we have a lot. It is hard to find parking spots during mid-day. Overall, I am not super happy, but also I am not completely dissatisfied with our parking options.” 

A school just 45 minutes away from Ohio Wesleyan, Otterbein University, has a bit of a different parking system. A year-round parking pass is $80, comparable to Baldwin Wallace’s prices. Otterbein has five parking lots available for student parking and there is no difference for parking between freshmen and upperclassmen. 

Tara Shuster, a freshman equine business major at Otterbein, expressed her feelings on being a freshman coming into this parking system. “The parking situation isn't my favorite. The spots fill up very fast and it's a long walk to classes. Majority are filled by 9am and [are full until] 9pm.” 

Christopher Mickens, an assistant director of Public Safety at Ohio Wesleyan, communicated via email about the change in parking from last year to this year. 

“A parking analysis was done by a consulting firm to determine troubled areas and to help ensure maximum availability for both students and faculty/staff. The size of our campus came into play here, as we consider ourselves a walking campus. In addition, we knew that the wayfinding signage around campus needed to be more clear, and was also a part of the consulting firm's report. Student input was received and considered in implementation of the new parking policy.” 

Comments from students express that while yes this school is considered a walking campus, students wish there was an option to park closer to classes during bad weather and cold days.

Leahy responded to a comment about whether not being able to drive to class affected her attendance. “No, I have to go to class because my major is pretty rigorous but for other people it definitely could because when the weather is bad not being able to drive might push people to not attend.” 

While there are considerations to be made at Ohio Wesleyan about parking for this upcoming year, it appears that this is not just a local problem but students at other universities have similar issues with parking.

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