A change in the McNeese State University parking rules has sparked outrage among upperclassmen.
The school opened all parking lots, both on and off campus, to all commuters, instead of having on-campus lots designated for only juniors and seniors.
According to campus administrators, this change is to help with equality on campus, as well as to prepare students for the new parking garage on campus. The garage will be open to all students and is expected to be available during the spring semester.
The McNeese Student Government Association held an open forum Monday afternoon for students to air their concerns over the new parking arrangement.
Students questioned the way the decision to remove junior/senior parking was made and wondered why it was not put to a full student body vote. They gave examples of how difficult it was to make it to class on time, and several said it was unfair because they had earned the right to park on campus.
SGA President Davante Lewis led the town hall meeting and defended the decision to open all lots to all students.
“The theme that I keep hearing is that everybody wants everybody else to sacrifice, but they don’t want to sacrifice themselves. The reality of what I’m seeing is that everyone is complaining, ‘Why couldn’t we move freshman over? Why couldn’t we move faculty over?’ To better this university each of us plays a crucial role, and sometimes we have to make tough decisions that lead to some having to sacrifice for others,” Lewis said.
“No one is entitled to a parking spot. No one earned a spot.”
“We do not have a parking place for every student. Hopefully with the new parking garage and the addition of almost 900 new parking spaces in that garage, it will eliminate the need for students to park in the lots that are off the campus,” said Candace Townsend, university spokeswoman.
“It will still be inconvenient for students to park in the parking garage if they have class on the opposite corner of campus. It will never be a reality that everyone will be able to park close to their door or close to their building.”
Around 10 students attended the meeting, but the Facebook group opposing the change, “Parking is an Earned Privilege,” has more than 500 members.
Lewis said the town hall meeting went well.
“Today’s meeting really helped give some more insight and some more knowledge for myself and for the students on the parking situation, what to do and how to make it better,” Lewis said.
He said opponents to the change were not looking at the parking situation in the right way.
“We have to look at the situation and understand that we don’t have a parking problem at McNeese, we have a walking problem. The parking lots are not far from the campus,” Lewis said. “I understand it doesn’t seem right, it doesn’t seem like it’s the best, but it is the best policy for all students. We have to look at all students, not just juniors and seniors.”
McNeese SGA will host two more town hall meetings on the parking issue this week, one at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Baker Auditorium and another at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the LaJeunesse Room.