Mercyhurst parking issues persist

Gillian Mazur, Editor in Chief

Before any of us students still at Mercyhurst today arrived within the gates and stepped foot on campus, one problem seems to have remained untouched and undiscussed by the higher-ups – parking and the lack thereof. While there are likely many factors that contribute to this problem and seemingly lack of solutions, one thing is for sure, that the parking problem on campus has been a problem long before our time here and it looks like it will remain one for years to come unless the school comes up with a solution.

While I did not have a car on campus until this year, I always thought students, faculty and staff were being dramatic when ranting about the parking issue. That is until I brought one up for my final semester – this is when I discovered what a true problem parking is on campus. Even those who buy parking passes and permits for $100 cannot find a single spot to park within their allocated color lots. It is ridiculous that during certain points of the day and/or night that it takes 15 to 20 minutes to park, and sometimes may not even find a spot at all! Between the Mercyhurst police handing out tickets like candy on Halloween and the City of Erie police and parking schedule having no mercy, many students simply have to just accept a ticket and fine to move on with their day or night.

One factor that does not help is Mercyhurst’s lack of space and land to develop. Situated in a 75-acre plot of land, the school does not have much space to build new lots or garages. Many students to this day argue that Ryan Hall should never have been built and instead, another parking garage/ lot be installed. With the highly valued aesthetics of the view of the buildings at Mercyhurst, this remains another block in why the school refuses to build a taller garage. While I am not sure of the quality of the soil, if the school does not want to build up, nor have the space to build out, my recommendation would be to go down. Dig the current parking garage lower into the ground to add another level or even better yet, knock the current garage down and then try again but dig lower to add more levels.

Another contributing factor to the rise in cars on campus is that Mercyhurst is no longer letting upperclassmen live off-campus as the school has transitioned to a four-year residential campus. With students no longer being able to park in their own homes off-campus, their cars come with them taking up even more space that is not available. Building new lots and garages aside, easy and simple fixes could easily help alleviate the current problems that both students, faculty and staff face. For instance, police and safety could simply count the available parking spaces for each color lot and offer subsequent passes at the beginning of each school year on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, this model is “bad for business” as they would get less money from those buying the extra passes and even less money from ticketing those who are forced to park in the wrong lots.

Another possible solution to add a few spaces while letting Police and Safety keep their money is to remove all of the “maintenance only” parking spaces in the already limited student lots. There is no reason why maintenance needs to have a designated parking spot in the student lots when the majority of the time the spaces remain empty.

Lastly, another simple fix is to show some of that “Mercy hospitality” and “socially merciful values” that is ingrained in the school’s mission and allow students to park wherever they need to at night from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. and then move in the morning or risk a ticket. I am not being dramatic when I say that parking is and will remain one of the most ignored problems at Mercyhurst. The Merciad’s online Opinion articles relating to the problems of parking date back to 2011- when the current Class of 2022 seniors were 11 years old in 5th grade and the freshmen were 8 years old in 2nd. If that is any indication of an ongoing ignored problem, I do not know what is. One can only hope that perhaps with the start of a new spring at Mercyhurst, President Getz and the Board of Trustees can finally develop a solution to a decades-old dilemma.