By Paula Ann Solis
As Baylor students begin returning to campus this semester, they may notice several things missing – like 200 student parking spaces.
This year, Parking and Transportation Services has reallocated parking spaces and limited decal choices to the $300 all-access decal. Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president for media communications, said that 100 former student parking spaces have been allotted to faculty and staff. The remaining 100 former student spaces are either temporarily blocked by construction or will no longer be spaces in lieu of greenery.
“Every campus change is done in the best interest of the student body,” Fogleman said.
Fogleman also said university officials understand the inconvenience this may cause for students, faculty and staff but with the heavy influx of new students, the changes to traffic patterns on the east side of campus and removal of student spaces near the McLane Student Life Center will improve student safety.
Faculty and staff have also experienced some discomforts, despite gaining student parking spaces behind the Moody Memorial Library and now having 1,599 parking spots in total. The faculty lost a row of parking spaces adjacent to the library, which are now 20-minute parking spots that do not require any decals.
Some of the faculty and staff most immediately affected by the changes near Moody Library are the library staff. Library Information Specialist Kay Stewart, who works at Moody Library, said she rarely had problems finding a parking spot last year and does not understand why the changes were deemed necessary, especially considering the effect it will have on the student body.
“We’re here to serve the students, that really is our focus, so I would say, yeah, the students were hurt by the changes,” she said.
Library Information Specialist Bruce Evans, who also works inside Moody Library, said he understands the need to add faculty parking.
“Because of the fact that they took away a bunch of parking on the side of the library, it makes sense to make up for it with the other lot,” he said. “But I understand why some students might be unhappy.”
Fogleman said the university has taken measures to address the reduction in student parking spaces close to campus. One of those options is the Ferrell Center parking lot, which is now free to all students. A shuttle, however, will no longer be available.
“The shuttle service is an extremely popular option throughout the rest of campus, but there was little interest from students in riding the shuttle from the Ferrell Center,” Fogleman wrote in an email to the Lariat.
The Ferrell Center’s free parking lot across University Parks Drive accounts for 26 percent of the 8,309 student parking spots.
Last year, parking at the Ferrell Center required a $150 parking permit.
Fogleman said, however, that only 12 of those permits were purchased. This semester, the university removed it as a parking permit option. The $200 East Campus Parking Garage permit is also no longer being offered. Like the Ferrell Center parking lot, Fogleman said, it was rarely used. The only choices that remain are the $300 all-access decal or no decal at all.
Abilene senior Rebekah Lowery said for her the biggest surprise was the loss of parking lots near the Glennis McCrary Music Building that are now exclusively for faculty and staff.
“I think that it’s stupid,” Lowery said. “I’m really upset because I’m a music major and that’s my parking lot. I don’t get it at all. If I’m going to pay for a parking pass, I should be able to actually park.”
Despite all these changes to parking, Fogleman said she hopes student utilization of the free Baylor University Shuttle around campus continues to rise.
“Last year we recorded record high numbers of ridership on the shuttle, which are convenient and environmentally friendly,” Fogleman said. “Hopefully it continues to rise and students take full advantage of the East Campus garage and the free parking spaces at the Ferrell Center.”