It is safe to say that the parking changes implemented for students prior to last Friday’s football game against Northwestern State were disastrous.
When Baylor decided to transition from the off-campus, decidedly inconvenient Floyd Casey Stadium to the beautiful, brand-new McLane Stadium right across the river, the students rejoiced. When Saturday games began and signs appeared instructing students and faculty to vacate certain parking garages by 6 p.m. Friday night, students were disgruntled, but flexible. But for Friday’s game, Baylor required students to move their cars out of the Dutton Parking Garage by 6 p.m. Thursday and prohibited them from parking in the garage all day Friday, despite the fact that most students had to be on campus for Friday classes.
In return for taking away the Dutton Avenue Parking Garage, students were allowed to park in faculty and visitor spots beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday through Friday.
Because Friday’s game was the first weekday home game since the stadium’s opening, it hadn’t previously occurred to the student body exactly how we would be expected to accommodate, but prohibiting students from parking in one of the most accessible, multi-level, primarily student-used parking garages can’t be the only solution.
In the words of Taylor Swift: “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes.” Translation: Baylor commandeered an entire parking garage (read: bullet hole), and gave us, in turn, a chance to battle it out with faculty in the already severely limited faculty and visitor parking areas (read: Band-Aid.)
Once emptied of students, the Dutton Avenue Parking Garage was reserved for game attendees holding season-long parking passes.
We all understand that parking at Baylor is limited by new regulations that take away lots from students, even more so this year than previously, and eliminating a possible parking garage on Thursday evening and Friday only exacerbated an already controversial issue. Limiting student parking when classes are still going on makes it more difficult for students to get to class on time. Furthermore, reallocating student parking during the week to clear space for gameday parking seems to only promote the image that Baylor cares more about athletics than academics, about athletes and making money than the rest of its student population.
Baylor expects students to adapt to gameday parking constrictions by carpooling, taking the bus or walking to school on the one day we were affected, but for many students with hectic or varied schedules, these simply aren’t options. Oftentimes, schedules don’t coincide closely enough for students to be able to carpool, buses don’t reach every apartment complex and much off-campus housing is too far away to reasonably walk to and from.
It seems as though Baylor simply didn’t plan appropriately when building McLane. Several simple solutions would make it much easier for students to plan for the games. For future Friday games, Baylor should consider canceling class altogether to avoid parking problems, further extending the hours that the buses run to campus and possibly opening even more lots to students than were offered this game.
Are we incredibly grateful for the beautiful stadium that earns us respect and admiration across the board? Yes. But do we need a more permanent parking solution that does not consist of kicking students, faculty and staff out of their parking spots? Yes, we really do.