Baylor parking garage closures give students cold shoulder

By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer

After a rare night of snowfall, I arrived at the Dutton parking garage Thursday at 9:20 a.m. to find a parade of cars snaking up and down the building. Though the sign outside said there were upward of 250 open spots, the fourth floor was closed off, along with the top decks of each other parking garage on campus, displacing scores of students who rely on campus parking.

In an attempt to keep students safe, Baylor completely bungled everything else.

Earlier that morning, at 6:51 a.m. to be precise, the official Baylor Twitter account tweeted informing its followers “[a]ll Baylor University operations are on normal schedule today” and reminding the community to be safe while driving.

The natural assumption this led to was that we would be able to carry on with our days as normal, just with a higher-than-usual amount of white stuff on the ground. Instead, students were greeted with closures and gridlocked as many tried in vain to park their cars.

After half an hour rolling around campus and already hopelessly late for class, I clocked in at a half-hour spot at Moody Library to kill time and avoid wasting any more gas.

Baylor had two equally valid courses of action they could have taken.

One: Baylor could have put out a statement informing its students of the parking garage closures. The university has multiple avenues to do this: email, social media, even the emergency alert system could have all worked. This would have allowed us to, at the very least, try to make arrangements to get to campus early or find alternative transportation. The early-morning announcement on social media about classes continuing as scheduled is evidence it could have been done.

Alternatively, if Baylor deemed the top floors of their own parking garages too dangerous to safely traverse, they could have just as easily canceled class and saved us all the hassle and the attendance hit of being forced to arrive late or skip class entirely. This doesn’t even account for students who may have been unable to retrieve cars which were parked overnight.

In a statement provided to the Lariat by Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president for media and public relations for Baylor, she said no parking citations were issued Thursday. Fogleman also said Baylor would be reviewing its protocols for communication and for preparing the upper floors of the parking garages for winter weather. A commendable reaction from Baylor, but too little too late.

Without advance notification, many of us were still blindsided. Recognizing the inconvenience students were put through is a start, but it’s not enough.

Parking permits at Baylor are not cheap, and spots are already hard to come by during the busiest hours of the day. I counted the number of spots using Google Earth satellite imagery. Not including spots already occupied from the previous night, a rough count of rooftop parking spaces puts the number at around 900 (including Dutton, East Village and Speight). That is a huge amount of real estate to suddenly lose.

Baylor’s lack of even the most basic notification of the closures shows a tremendous amount of disrespect for the students who don’t just rely on available parking to make it to class, but also fork over exorbitant fees to do so. I only purchased a permit over winter break because my job at the Lariat frequently involved staying on campus past the buses’ operating hours, and walking to the Ferrell Center late at night is, to put it generously, not ideal. It’s hard to see how that purchase was worth the money when situations like this can arise without warning.

Matthew is a junior political science major from Robinson.