By: Katie Reese
(SETON HILL, Pa.) – Seton Hill offers ten parking lots for students and staff to park in during all hours of the day.
The lots are divided between residents and commuters on weekdays. According to Chief of Police Michelle Proctor, most faculty park in E Lot, with some having reserved spots in Boyle lot.
According to the 22-23 Seton Hill Parking Permit, “Parking in Lots A, B, C, D, E, Boyle Lot, Grotto Lot and 131 Lot is permitted for commuter students. No overnight parking is allowed in Lot A, C, Boyle Lot, Grotto Lot, and 131 Lot from Monday – Friday.”
The rules are similar for residents, “Parking in Lots B, D, E, DeChantal Lot, and 131 Lot are permitted for resident students. No resident parking is allowed in Lots A, C, Boyle Lot, Grotto Lot, and 131 Lot from Monday – Friday. After 5 p.m. on Friday and until midnight Sunday night parking is open to students, faculty, and staff with a valid parking pass. (Seton Hill Parking Permit)”
University Business Manager Charles O’Neill stated that there are “…more than 1,000 parking spaces available throughout campus – excluding some reserved and handicapped parking spaces.”
Proctor counted closer to 850 spaces.
“While there may be certain days and times when parking may be more difficult to find in locations closer to the central campus buildings, spaces are always available,” said O’Neill.
The Setonian sent out a Google form to all undergraduates, graduates, and staff members asking about their personal experiences with parking. According to the survey, students do not believe that there is ample parking on campus.
In the form, students and staff were asked on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most difficult, how difficult was it to find parking at Seton Hill? 39.8% answered 10.
The most used parking lot was A Lot, at 20.4%. An undergraduate student on the form said they parked “literally anywhere there was room.”
Another common answer was E lot. “I used to find parking in A, B, or the grotto before now. I end up in E almost every day,” said an undergraduate student.
“The lots that tend to fill up first would obviously be A, B, C, Boyle, and then once those are full, students become frustrated and don’t want to go to E lot, so they park illegally, and that’s when we come into play,” said Proctor.
Students are not happy to have to park in the lower lot. “I don’t pay $38,000 a year to walk up 109 stairs from E because the school won’t pay for a new lot, ” said an anonymous tweet posted to the @hill_yeet Twitter account. @hill__yeet is not affiliated with Seton Hill University.
O’Neill said that “The free campus shuttle service is also a convenient option for those who park in more distant lots.” According to the shuttle schedule, the shuttle makes stops at the Administration building, the Brownlee stop sign, the Performing Arts Center lobby, the Visual Arts Center, and E lot.
Multiple students mentioned the lack of consistency with the shuttles. “I’m tired of relying on the shuttles that half the time don’t even show up,” said a student. Another student mentioned that “the shuttle schedule often isn’t on time anyways.”
Proctor mentioned that if students have to park in E lot but do not feel safe walking up, they can call campus police to come and pick them up. Shuttles also run till 10:50 p.m.
Some students cannot even find parking in Lot E. “I try for A but there isn’t ever anything so [I park in] Boyle. [I] Even couldn’t find a spot in E lot,” said a student.
Staff members are having similar issues. “I usually can find a spot, but it is in the BACK of lot E and I have to drive around the lot a few times to even find a spot,” wrote a staff member.
“There are hardly any parking spots when I get to campus as a commuter. I often have to circle around to find parking,” said an undergraduate.
“We do parking counts at various times of the day to see what’s open [and] what isn’t,” said Proctor.
Most who answered the form said that it’s most difficult to find parking during the morning, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., to the late afternoon, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The second most common answer was “anytime during the day.”
Proctor similarly said that parking is the worst at “11 o’clock in the morning. I would say between ten and one.”
84.8% of people who answered the form believed that Seton Hill should add more parking. Multiple students who answered said that they don’t care where the parking goes. “Don’t care, tons of room around campus to add it,” said a student.
A common answer was to put parking next to dorms such as Havey and Sisters of Charity. “The area at the end of the SOC [Sisters of Charity] lot closest to Dish [DeChantal Hall] and the part in front of the woods in SOC,” said a student.
“I think we could build one by Brownlee and put an underground parking lot there,” said another student.
Other common answers were in front of McKenna Gym, the field below Boyle, and the Performing Arts Center.
While most of the answers suggested building a new lot, there were few who wanted to bring an old lot back. Many upperclassmen expressed distaste over Seton Hill getting rid of the overflow lot.
“Literally just bring back the overflow lot, why did you get rid of it,” said an undergraduate.
Proctor stated that the overflow lot was never meant to be permanent. Due to everything being temporary, it would not have been possible to keep the temporary gravel and lighting there permanently.
But this may not be a possibility. “Current construction costs for a surface parking lot in the Pittsburgh region average around $10,000 per parking space – with costs for a parking garage averaging around $25,000 per space. Cost is not the only consideration when building a parking lot or garage – location, land use, and environmental concerns also must be considered whenever we look at campus planning,” Stated O’Neill
Many students voiced that the lack of spaces was not the only issue with parking here on the hill.
62.6% of participants believe that the lots are unfairly divided between residents and commuters, citing students not parking in their designated lots.
“You have commuters parking anywhere when residents should be allowed to park anywhere. We are the ones that live here,” said a resident.
“I am faculty with permission to park in Boyle daily, however, it is still quite difficult to find a space in that lot if arriving after 9:45 a.m. Athletes are reportedly not permitted to park in that lot but they continue to do so without consequence,” said a faculty member.
“As a commuter, it is hard to find parking for my classes in the morning. It seems like there are more residential parkers than commuters,” said a commuter.
Residents believe that commuters should not park anywhere and commuters believe that residents should be designated to E Lot. “You have commuters parking anywhere when residents should be allowed to park anywhere. We are the ones that live here,” said a resident.
“Residents who don’t use their cars to get to class don’t need to park right near all the class buildings. I think they should park in the grotto/E lots,” said an undergraduate.
“Residents should be required to park in C and E lots only. Only commuters and faculty in A, B, Boyle,” said a staff member.
So what is being done about all of this bickering? Proctor simply said “We give out tickets. The main reason that we have been ticketing so much is because of the complaints.”
“I would say in a day, we have given up to 50 [parking tickets]. That includes LECOM. We have a problem with LECOM parking in A lot also,” said Proctor.
Proctor said that because of students’ frustration with parking, students have begun to illegally park.
“Usually they are parked in places that aren’t parking spots. We had [points] where almost the entire [Boyle] roadway was blocked. We had athletic events and you couldn’t get the ambulance down there,” said Proctor. She also mentioned students parking in fire lanes. “We have delivery trucks that come through there so they can’t get around the vehicles. Some of them have had to go up on the grass, you can see the grass get torn up. It becomes a problem. If you can’t get a tractor-trailer through, how are you going to get a fire truck through?”
“Students get a $100 ticket every time they park in the fire lane,” said Proctor.
Proctor also talked about students parking in handicapped and reserved spots. “We also had a problem with people parked in handicapped [spots] and go[ing] into the cafeteria. They will park there in a handicapped spot, run in to get their food, and then the person who requires that handicapped spot goes to park and there’s nothing for them.”
“After five tickets, we refer it to discipline. If they get additional tickets, up to eight, they can get a warning posted on their car and at ten tickets their vehicle is going to be booted,” said Proctor. “For the most part we haven’t booted anyone, we are trying to avoid that.”
Proctor explained that the boot is a metal plate that hooks on one side of the wheel and then it comes around to the other side. There is a locking mechanism placed on the boot, immobilizing the vehicle.
“What students don’t get is that those tickets will eventually get put on their [tuition] bill,” explained Proctor.
Proctor mentioned that she understands students’ frustrations about parking. While she believes the lots are fairly divided, she also understands that it can be frustrating to park far away.
“If cost wasn’t a factor then yeah it would be great if we had more parking,” said Proctor.
Proctor said Campus Police is always open to ideas in order to make parking the best for students. “We are here 24/7,” assured Proctor.
Photo was taken by Haley Brenny of Students Zakh Williams and Joseph Piper