Voice of the Students: Parking is an outrage

Chelsea L. McDowell and Allie Page, CSUB Student Contributors

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Recently, students, staff and faculty received a tone-deaf and terse email from University Police Department Chief Marty Williamson reinforcing the fact that parking is not permitted in the Marketplace shopping center across the street. He briefly mentioned that CSU Bakersfield parking was reaching maximum capacity, and instead of advocating for expanding parking or addressing the issue of capacity, he advised the campus community to take the bus or rideshare.

Due to the luxury of designated parking spaces that campus leaders benefit from, Chief Williamson is out of touch with the dog-eat-dog, combat parking situation that not only students, but staff and faculty experience on a daily basis.

Students aren’t parking at the Marketplace because they like to take a stroll before class in the heat of a Bakersfield summer. People are desperate for parking spaces and need to be near CSUB.

This issue is not new. As the CSUB student body continues to grow, the facilities do not support that growth. According to its website, CSUB sits on 375 acres of space, or over half a square mile. Much of this space consists of unused dirt lots, which could easily be converted to parking lots for students. Potential parking lot spaces exist west and south of the baseball fields, as well as the unused fields and dirt lots throughout campus.

It appears that while CSUB leaders want to boast about the thriving population, they do not want to shell out the money or effort to accommodate it. Seemingly without reason, the school lacks willingness to develop its infrastructure.

The buses, as Williamson may or may not know, are not a solution to the systemic problem of parking. Bakersfield bus schedules are inconvenient, and it can take hours to get to and from campus, especially for people further from Southwest Bakersfield. More time is wasted by waiting for buses and planning your day around the GET schedule… time that could be spent working at jobs, on homework, or something else productive.

Not everyone has the privilege of being dropped off at school either. Bakersfield is too spread out for walking longer distances to be viable, and bicycling to school can be inconvenient as well.

Some may argue that limiting parking encourages students to drive less, and thus save the environment. However, being dropped off at school by a friend still uses gas, and people will actually burn more gas driving in circles scavenging for the last available parking spot.

Let’s address the elephant in the room; parking permits are too expensive. Students already spend thousands on tuition and textbooks. Also, a parking permit does not guarantee a parking spot. If we can’t find a space half the time, the permit is not worth the exorbitant price.

President Zelezny is always hyping up her campus community, saying students are [her] motivation. She seems to have her heart in the right place, and she should show her care by helping out with this pertinent issue for students, staff and faculty alike. It would be fascinating to watch how she tackles this campus-wide problem.