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Parking: From Each According To His Needs, To Each According to His Utility

Marx.jpgOne consequence of administrative bloat at the College is a severe parking problem, which prevents faculty members from easily frequenting their offices — therefore spending less face-to-face time with colleagues and students. The solution in this area, as it is to so many other problems at Dartmouth, is to cut deeply into the ranks of our bloated support personnel. However, it’s clear now that the Kim administration has adopted a business-as-usual stance towards staffing, so let’s think about interim solutions to the parking issue.

First off, let’s do a little poll.

Question: Who is more important in fulfilling the core mission of the College?

a) The Faculty
b) Deans and Associate Deans
c) Administrative Assistants and Technical Support
d) Maintenance Personnel

Answer: If you have not already done so, please click on a). Good for you! We all agree.

Then why do all of the above groups have identical parking privileges in their areas of the central campus? Well, because Jim Wright (he of the reserved parking spot beside Parkhurst) in his magnanimous sense of solidarity with the downtrodden of the earth—see answers b), c) and d)—mandated that the weak and the meek should have the same parking rights as the people who acquit the College’s essential responsibilities. (Was a leveling of salaries to be the next step in Wright’s ongoing experiment in radical egalitarianism?)

I could go on at length regarding the confounding stupidity of such an idea. The equality-of-parking policy should evermore be presented as an archetype of placing doctrine ahead of mission, theory ahead of practicality, as the kind of flight of idiocy that can only occur when an institution has a multi-billion dollar endowment and no real competition. Or to put things in business terms, such decisions are made when posturing comes ahead of the real needs of an institution’s key employees, and more importantly, its customers.

A recommendation for a fix that will instantly improve the life of the College: nobody but the faculty should be allowed to park in the central campus. Nobody. (Except, perhaps, distinguished alumni bloggers.) Everyone else should be relegated to the subsidiary parking lots from which they can be shuttled to their offices. To make things easier for the shuttlers, put in more frequent buses.

Does this seem complicated or unfair to you? If it does, please apply forthwith for a job deep within the federal bureaucracy. For the rest of us, let’s remember that the faculty has real work to do educating students — and that one of the constant goals of the Kim administration should be to make it as easy as possible for them to do their work. Everyone else is just supporting cast.

UPDATE: A faculty friend writes:

Thanks for doing this piece. I have been amazed since I came here almost 20 years ago that no provision is made for faculty parking. When I was in the textbook business I visited many campuses and that was never the case.

It seems so hypocritical that Dartmouth does all this ranting about faculty availability and then makes it impossible for faculty to travel back and forth from home to campus or even from one part of campus to another (in bad weather, for example.) Administrators generally work 8-4 period. But the nature of the academic is that the hours are not regular. So if someone is thinking of coming in at 1, say, because they plan to stay for an event at 7, well—forget it. Why come in before 7? (Oh I forgot, if they get to campus at 1:20 when the janitors are leaving, they might get parking.)

Well, thanks for tackling this one. It so affects people in the day-to-day. As I have said before, it makes faculty feel like they are just “the help.” It dominates peoples’ schedules and social lives.


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