Staff members are not the only ones on campus distressed over the recent shortage of parking spaces caused by the construction of the multimillion dollar parking structure. Students are also forced to bear the brunt of the situation after losing 350 parking spaces in Lot B.
Many students complain that although they gained 44 additional parking spaces in other lots, such as former staff parking Lot 32, and are assisted by parking lot attendants, many of them still have to drive around the crowded Lot B for up to half an hour before finding a parking space and are often consequently late for class.
“If I don’t get to school before 8:30 [a.m.] it’s almost impossible to find a spot,” said English major Joelle Worf. “[The lot] is so crowded that it’s ridiculous.”
“A lot of students were late for my 6:30 [p.m.] class because they had trouble parking,” said Vanessa Simental, another student. “I just get dropped off so I don’t have to deal with it.”
The college implemented a stacked parking system beginning in April that allows parking lot attendants to direct students to available spaces and to park the students’ cars for them in an organized fashion to make more space, but this apparently has not been of much help. Some students are even unaware that such a system exists. One of these students is Child Development major Soyen Sohn.
“I didn’t know there were [attendants],” said Sohn. “I don’t see them when I’m looking for parking.” She added that she sees students “driving around and around looking for parking” without any assistance from the attendants.
Benny Hernandez, one of the four regular parking lot attendants, said that this is probably because the lot is “so busy” during mornings that even the valets have their hands full.
“The busiest time is in the morning from 8:30 to 10, and again from 11 to 1:30,” Hernandez said. “If the lot is full, we take [students’] cars and line them up. They leave their cars and keys with us so we can park [their cars] for them.” A number is then attached to each set of keys, and the students are given a stub with that number so that they can claim their cars before 4:30 p.m.
According to Hernandez, who is one of four parking attendants assigned to Lot B during the day, the students do not seem to have a problem with the parking situation. “They don’t complain,” Hernandez said.
Thomas Dryden, ASGCC Vice President of Administration, echoes this statement. “I think the most inconvenienced is the classified staff,” Dryden said. “Students don’t tend to complain that much.”
Dryden added that he thinks students are “getting used to the system,” referring to the valets. “It may have been confusing for them for the first week,” he said. “They voiced their opinions then, but now they’re used to it.”
College police spokesperson Nidal Kobaissi said that the police had made several efforts to familiarize students with the parking system. “We had it printed in the El Vaquero and inserted the information in the class schedule catalog,” he said. “We even printed out maps [for the catalog] and we also put it on the college website. We asked professors to announce it in their classes. We even had a flyer campaign.”
According to Kobaissi, not many students saw the flyers because it had rained on the week when they left the flyers on students’ parked cars.
Kobaissi also said that he believes there is enough parking for students. “We haven’t reached capacity in stacking in the lots,” he said. “We haven’t had one complaint from the students, and nothing unusual has happened.”
However, Simental disagreed. “Students are just too busy to complain since they’re late and rushing off to class,” she said.
One math class was even cut short by almost 15 minutes because the instructor had to leave early to avoid having his car towed. “I parked by the Coffee Bean, in the lot that’s only for customers,” said math instructor Robert Sneddon. “I was afraid my car would be towed, so I dismissed my class early.”
Psychology professor Michael Dulay said that college faculty are trying to come up with solutions to make it easier for students to take classes despite parking difficulties.
One of these solutions is the paired hybrid classes that the Social Science Department might offer in the fall. These will enable students to take two classes in one night once a week, covering six units at once and requiring students to do some coursework online.
“We’ll start to target class scheduling,” Dulay said. “We’ll also target afternoon classes and encourage students to take them, especially since there’s not much activity on campus in the afternoons and parking is much easier then.”
Dulay said he hopes these solutions will encourage students to stay at GCC even if they’re not happy about the parking situation. “I believe we all have to work together to make the situation bearable for everyone,” he said.