Some students stuck in parking limbo

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

While some parking rules could change next year, an unpopular policy with some married students could remain the same.

In the past, as the SDSU Web site says, those who lived in Family Student Housing and also worked on campus were allowed to buy a Faculty/Employees tag in addition to their Student Married parking decal, allowing those students the only exception to the one-decal rule. When the FE passes became part of the Student Commuter tags in the fall of 2008, these students were denied SC tags.

“We’re going back to the core structure: one decal, one lot. That’s all,” said Mike Reger, vice president for administration.

This policy reversal has caused problems for some married students.

David Karki, a doctoral student of plant science, conducts research and does some teaching as part of his assistantship at the university. To get to his lab from Family Student Housing, he must walk 20 minutes one way. He said this puts stress on his schedule, which is already filled with family time, tough research and graduate workloads and duties as president of the International Relations Club.

“That back and forth time is just gone,” he said.

Not being able to drive to his lab is also an issue when emergencies arise. Karki said these married students face problems when their kids get sick at daycare or when they need to get to a field quickly as part of their research. One time, Karki needed to immediately get additional lighting for the plants in his lab, but since he did not have a car handy, he had to ask someone else to get the lights for him.

“It might sound simple: a parking decal, but in some cases, it gives a lot of problems not being able to drive,” he said.

On versus off campus

Students who live in Student Married housing and work on campus should be allowed to buy a commuter pass, Karki said, because they are often treated as off-campus residents. Unlike other on-campus residents, they do not receive certain amenities, such as their Internet and modem being provided. Karki’s housing description on Mystateonline even says, “You live off campus for term 2009SP.”

“They treat us as on campus at their convenience, and they treat us as off campus at their convenience,” Karki said.

Another frustration for these students is that others who live just as close to campus are considered off-campus residents.

“People that live on the same side of the road are all considered off campus. We want to pay for two decals,” Karki said.

Reger does not accept these arguments.

“I’m not in agreeance that they’re being treated differently. ? They have all the benefits a resident has,” he said.

As for other off-campus students living in the same proximity to campus as the married housing students, Reger said that is how life is sometimes.

“It’s pretty much the luck of the draw,” he said.

Enough spots for two?

Reger, who will be making the final decision on this issue, said students cannot be allowed to have more than one pass due to space restrictions.

“We can’t afford to build parking for more than (one parking decal per person). It doesn’t make sense in terms of use of space that we have.”

Karki disagreed, saying that there are more than enough spots open on the north side of campus for the 15 to 30 students who want and are willing to pay for another decal.

Around 10 a.m. on March 16, there were 33 available Student Commuter spots in the Animal Science Arena lot, 312 spots open at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, 35 available east of the Northern Plains Biostress Laboratory and north of the Hilton M. Briggs Library and none open in the lot west of the Biostress Lab. There were 17 spots open in the All Class Lot by the Motor Pool Complex, which is the lot married housing students can park in on the north side.

Government and Committee Support

The Students’ Association and the Parking and Traffic Committee have both supported the married students on the two-decal issue.

A resolution to allow these married students to buy two parking decals was passed 27-1 at the Nov. 3, 2008, SA meeting. Chris Daugaard, SA president when the resolution was passed, said senators supported the resolution since these students have different responsibilities than other students.

“They’re married with children,” he said. “They’re in a lot different situation than undergraduate students in the resident halls.”

For Daugaard and Karki, it is frustrating that the resolution was passed by an SDSU committee and the student government but has been stopped at the administrative level.

“We’ve gained little administrative traction,” Daugaard said. “It’s supported by the Students’ Association and the Parking and Traffic Committee, but we’ve gotten no answer.”

After the parking committee passed their resolution in December, the married students tried to buy SC decals after Christmas break but were told that Reger still had not agreed to the policy reversal.

“I’m not sure it’s in the university’s best interest that people can have (more than one) parking stickers to make their life convenient,” Reger said.

Karki is not convinced.

“What’s the negative of giving us decals? No one knows.”

Varied reactions

Other students at SDSU have mixed opinions on the issue. Kent Buchholz, the lone vote against the November SA resolution, said there would be technical difficulties if those students were allowed to buy two tags.

“I voted against it because they are on campus already,” he said. “? If a student lives in Young and works in the Meat Lab, should that student be allowed to buy a faculty tag by animal science?”

Jenni Mack, a junior health promotion major, disagreed.

“If they want to pay for both of them, then that’s their prerogative.”