By Taylor Pettit
As new buildings spring up across campus, Richmond continues to expand and our freshman class seems to grow. However, one issue remains constant – Parking is inconvenient, annoying and bothersome.
Even though we continue to complain about the issue, we refuse to accept any possible solutions. Except for maybe a parking garage, which would be the difficult and most expensive route.
A solution, at least in part, is to eliminate cars as an option for freshmen.
Obviously, like we currently do with housing, exceptions to the rule would be needed. Eastern has a massive population of non-traditional students and students who come from rural communities where going home frequently is required.
Parking spaces are continuing to dwindle because of building expansion, which adds, arguably, more to the University rather than paving the Campus Beautiful.
About half of universities allow students to keep cars at school, according to data collected by U.S. News.
But of the pedestrian-friendly schools, fewer than five percent of students choose to have cars.
Eastern could be a pedestrian-friendly, green and lush landscape if we preserve what we have and do not exceed our limitations.
To avoid sounding like a grumpy old senior, it’s important to explain: as a freshman I didn’t have a car. Despite being without personal transportation, I had a job, went to parties and did everything my vehicle-endowed friends did.
I became familiar with the taxi and shuttle system and avoided the freshman 15 by walking almost everywhere.
Visiting colleges who don’t allow freshmen to have cars also offers another upside. Most of these schools have bustling downtowns to accommodate on-campus students.
Every year Richmond sees the opening of new businesses on Main Street, and we also see the inevitable close. If one large group of the population were, for lack of a better word, left to explore the locale, it would only help these businesses stick around longer than a few months.
Eastern as a commuter college isn’t the most negative attribute. But it doesn’t shine the most positive light either.
Banning freshmen parking would not serve to alienate our commuters, but rather provide a better community for on-campus students and alleviate the stress upperclassmen commuters are currently feeling.
Most colleges that do not allow freshmen parking are located in cities, already awash with various forms of public transportation.
This is one area Eastern would have to invest in by adding to and updating the shuttle system.
Even looking to our neighbor, Berea College, we can see this is a positive possibility. They do not allow most students to have cars and only have a single shuttle to downtown areas. They have a vibrant community and a unique downtown geared at students with restaurants, coffee shops and bookstores.
As we see new apartment complexes and dorms spring up, more and more cars will appear on campus. The time for change is now, not after the issues have overflowed across campus.