When students returned to campus for the new school year in August, they were immediately met with some new changes.
Seton Hill University began construction of a new residence hall on DeChantal Lawn this summer, which will house 145 students in suite style units. The building is scheduled to open in August 2019 and is partially in response to the university’s change in its residency policy two years ago, which requires students to live on campus for three years.
Until construction is completed, all parking in Lot D has been restricted. Although commuters could park in Lot D, this parking lot with 249 spaces was the main area where residents could park.
A temporary parking lot was installed along Seton Hill Drive past DeChantal Hall for resident students, which accommodates approximately 150 vehicles and is available for overnight parking.
“We immediately started working with the contractors to try and figure out what was possible and where we could site additional cars,” said Jennifer Lundy, vice president for finance and administration. “We didn’t want to end up with people parking in the grass or making their own parking, so we felt that it was important to act quickly and have something in place.”
Overnight and residential parking is also now permitted in Lots B and C, which were previously reserved for commuters only. Lot B includes 81 parking spaces, and Lot C includes 52.
“That’s completely a response to student feedback, where students were saying they would like more places where they could park overnight since D Lot got full,” Lundy said. “Taking D Lot offline, we knew there would be a need for significantly more overnight parking. We’re full from a housing standpoint this academic year, so there’s a lot of students who are resident students who need to park overnight.”
“I usually try and find parking in Lots B and C, but that is usually harder,” said junior resident Gianna Donate. “This is my second year having a car on campus, and this year, it has been a little more difficult to find parking than the previous year. I am glad that they did make a temporary parking lot to help out with the lost spaces from D, but I also feel that there still isn’t enough parking for all the students and faculty members.”
Although Lot A (145 spaces), the Boyle Lot (77 spaces) and the Grotto Lot (42 spaces) all remain reserved for commuters, senior commuter Laura Kupets said her parking experience can be summed up with the word “stressed.”
“In the mornings, there would always be spots in A, B or the Grotto to easily park and get to class stress-free,” Kupets said. “Now, it’s definitely changed because I get here early some mornings and there are never any spots left in those areas. I have to hope there are at least some spots left in E or some other further lot so I can get to class.”
“I think it is just creating problems and general frustration for the commuter population,” Kupets added. “We rely on parking somewhat quickly in order to get to class. We can leave earlier, but sometimes that’s not an option because of our life outside of school or the hold-ups on the road.”
E Lot, which includes 343 spaces and is where many employees park, remains open to all employees, commuters and residents. SHU also rented the parking lot at Caritas Christi, which has space for approximately 70 vehicles.
“It’s sort of underutilized, but I think as people start to find it and the shuttle works itself out, it should become a more reliable place for people to park,” Lundy said. “If you’re struggling to find somewhere else to park, it’s open.”
During the first week of classes, campus police gave warnings to direct people to correct parking. With classes in full session, campus police will continue to enforce the parking regulations and ticket those who are not parked correctly.
“I think the first week of school was kind of a trial, so to speak,” said Michele Proctor, chief of police at SHU. “Most people were following the rules, however, there were some who just didn’t account for time and parked wherever they could so they could get to class.”
According to Lundy, there are currently not plans to construct a parking lot for the new residence hall.
“With the shift of going from a one-year residency to a three-year residency requirement, we don’t necessarily anticipate an increase in the overall number of students and number of vehicles on campus,” Lundy said. “Parking was not necessarily an automatic requirement of the project. Fewer commuting students from local rental properties will ideally decrease the vehicular traffic.”
Lundy said she also wants students to keep in mind that parking is free to everyone on campus and available to all students, including freshmen.
“Everybody has permission to park on campus, but they have to be a little bit more flexible and willing to park in lots that are not as desirable,” Lundy said. “It does take a little bit of planning and getting to campus. I’m just asking everybody to try and be understanding and plan ahead the best that they can.”
Both Lundy and Proctor said that they are open to student feedback regarding the new parking regulations.
“The first week is a really hard week to make any kind of assessment on, and we’re trying to be very responsive to student feedback,” Lundy said. “We want to know what’s working and what’s not working so we can put our resources in the right direction.”
Published By: Stephen Dumnich