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Parking Crisis Grinds On

The administration can’t get its head around what everyone agrees is a parking crisis on campus. The main impediment, at least to my mind, is the willful inability of people in Parkhurst (Phil more than anyone) to understand that there are two types of users of parking spaces: the eight-hour-or-so-per-shift staffers and the frequently-come-and-go members of the faculty.

A single parking space — say a slot behind Dartmouth Hall — might at present be used for a full shift by a custodian who arrives early in the morning, or by an administrative assistant working 8:30am-4:00pm. The same space could also be used two or three times by faculty members during the same eight-hour period, a professor who might arrive to teach a class in the 9 or 10 or 11 hour, or who might drive from home to meet with students during office hours. Today such professors find themselves condemned to both a search for parking in a jammed satellite lot and then a meandering, low-productivity ride on a shuttle bus.

However the administration remains adamant that, in according parking privileges, it will not make a distinction between the faculty and the staff. Why this is so, beyond the shallowest kind of virtue-signaling politics, is beyond me. After all, the administration pays a professor an annual salary several multiples of what it pays a custodian, ostensibly in recognition of the fact that the professors brings more value to Dartmouth than the custodian. Why not take steps to increase the productivity of the more valued employee?

Below is a memo from Dean of the Faculty Elizabeth Smith in which she lays out plans to pack ever more cars ever more tightly onto the campus, without having the courage to grant to the faculty the right to more frequently used spaces:

Smith Parking MemoA 2018.jpg

Smith Parking MemoB 2018.jpg

Nibbling at the parking problem will not solve it. The administration has to look at the issue of parking as it should all other issues: what decisions can we make to improve the quality of a Dartmouth education?

Addendum: Of course, another way to reduce parking pressure would be to trim the massive bureaucracy by 500-1,000 people. Not only would that move solve the parking problem, it would fix the budget, too.

Addendum: At my health club, staff members all park at the far end of our lot in order that members may have easier access to the main building. Staffers understand that members come and go each day at two-hour-or-so intervals, whereas they are in the building for eight or more hours.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Yes, at my health club, too, and also in my town, employees recognize the importance of “customers” and park in the farthest lots/spaces.

Just musing, but how much acreage is occupied by all of the house cluster system faux gathering spot structures?

Addendum: A member of the faculty writes in:

The parking crunch incentivizes faculty to work from home — which is what those who don’t have labs to tend to increasingly do. Junior faculty in particular, because they purchase homes far off from campus, develop the habit of working from home. Often faculty park at a town parking meter when they have to come in for a class or a meeting, and race back to their cars to head home before they get a ticket.

Dartmouth has the perfect parking policy, if the administration wants a massive staff that’s on campus all day and professors who are difficult for students to find.

Given the importance of making the campus accessible not only to faculty but to everyone — not least, parents and prospective students — maybe it’s time for the College to plan a significant parking structure?

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Call me cynical, but I laughed out loud at this from the parking memo:

“Proposed but not approved: Use of Affinity House parking spaces for staff parking.”

Would have loved to be a fly on the wall when that proposal was discussed…


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