Parking at St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick becomes a topic of conversation every year, but this year an email from UNB’s vice-president academic, Greg MacLean, spurred students to take action.
In an email sent to both UNB and STU students, MacLean announced close to 500 alumni would be on campus for UNB’s Homecoming, a tradition of welcoming former students and their families to celebrate UNB, and guests were invited to use any available parking spaces.
This, along with more than a dozen Facebook posts from concerned students inspired a sit-in hosted by UNB business major, Aaron Cabot.
By organizing the sit-in, Cabot hoped to get a reaction from the administration about an issue that he said is present for the whole academic year.
“They’re like, ‘Oh, it’s inconvenient but there’s still parking’ and while true, there’s technically still parking, the university is still charging these people on a belief that they’ll get a parking spot near their class,” said Cabot.
The Facebook event titled Sitting by Facilities Management Because We Can’t Find Parking had over 600 people interested on Facebook but only about a dozen participants showed up. Cabot himself was ten minutes late, because he said he couldn’t find parking.
Cabot said he heard from and talked to approximately 30 to 40 people about campus parking after he created the Facebook event.
He said he’s also been asked by the University of New Brunswick Student Union to sit on a committee to help resolve parking issues.
First–year STU student Taryn McCoy was one of the attendees. She said even though STU has a smaller student body than UNB, parking is still a major issue.
McCoy shows up for her 10 a.m. class by 9:30 a.m and said she can only find parking by the Aitken Centre. She said her professors face the same issue.
“I’ve had teachers who are late because they can’t find parking to my classes. That happened today.”
She said UNB and STU need to stop overselling passes and look at other methods.
“A lot of universities at least in the [United] States sell parking spaces, so you are guaranteed a parking space. And if anyone else parks in that space, then that’s an issue. I think that’s something that could be used here.”
STU’s associate vice-president of communications Jeffrey Carleton said both campuses see about a 20 per cent oversell of parking passes, but that’s normal. Overselling occurs because not everyone is on campus at the same time.
“We’re just in a situation where there’s ample parking but there’s not ample parking at peak times that is completely convenient. Certainly, it’s understandable why people are frustrated, especially people who are new to the campus environment,” said Carleton.
He said facilities management hasn’t received any formal complaints about parking this year.
Carleton said looking into solutions would require a collaboration with STU and UNB facilities management and UNB security but at this time the problem is not severe enough to take those steps.
Students like Cabot think otherwise.
“It’s kind of unfair for people to pay for these parking passes expecting to get convenient parking on campus and then be told, ‘Yeah, our only solution is to park further away.’”
With files from Caitlin Dutt