Response to 'parking problems'

Mercer University’s parking dispute was granted almost an entire page of coverage in last week’s issue of The Cluster, yet none of the real issues regarding the problem were breached. Instead of discussing student safety in the available lots, or the practicality of adding more parking, the administration’s comments instead focused on the “inconvenience” posed to students, making us sound like privileged kids too bothered to walk a few blocks to class. While having to walk all the way across campus to get to classes and residence halls isn’t a problem during the day, covering that same distance at night is. Although the Mercer administration has done an admirable job of making campus safer for its students, certain parking lots have become targets for carjackers and thieves. The Mercer Police parking lot, which doubles as extra parking spaces for students with Red, Purple and Green decals, has seen at least three break-ins or car thefts since February, according to The Cluster’s Police Beat section. With these kinds of dangerous deeds going on right under the campus police’s nose, who can blame students for wanting to park safely outside their own dorms at night?

The simple solution to this problem would be to build more proximal parking, particularly for the students who scrounge for parking spaces in the red decal lots for Mercer Hall and the apartment buildings. With the Lofts expanding, and the College Hill Alliance working hard to bring Mercer into Macon, building a parking garage or two should be no problem; a prime location would be the Mercer Police lot itself. Although adding a garage would be a significant investment for the school, it would be well worth the time and money. The garage could easily be designed not only to be functional and efficient, but aesthetically pleasing as well, matching the red brick exteriors of the rest of Mercer’s buildings.

Ohio State University recently published a study detailing the measures needed to keep crime low in parking garages. The study explained that there were a number of measures that the school could take to improve the safety of their parking garages; including improving the lighting inside, as well as controlling access to the cars. If the school was to build a garage that was only accessible to students by Bear Card, the instances of break-ins would drop significantly. The experts conducting OSU’s study found that better illumination of the garages cut the crime rates significantly, and the implementation of both suggestions for safety measures cut the crime rate in certain garages by half.

In addition to these crucial safety features, the garage could also employ a mechanical vacancy system, to let students know how many spots were left in the garage before pulling in. This would save students valuable time that they currently waste driving aimlessly through full parking lots, when they could be in class or at home.

A well-lit, Bear Card accessible parking garage on campus would be a valuable asset to Mercer’s student body, as well as the administration. It would significantly cut down on the amount of crime occurring around student cars, and allow students to park without endangering the peace of mind that Mercer administration has worked so hard to cultivate.