With only 17.5% of enrolled students living on campus, Eastern Michigan University is considered a suburban campus. The majority of the 14,048 students enrolled in classes drive and park on campus daily.
On September 25, the university closed one of the most popular places to park, the only multi-level parking structure on campus, which had 784 spaces and is in a central location to many buildings. of class. The closure sent many commuters in search of new parking, including chemical specialist Holly Stefanek.
“The price of parking passes has increased significantly since my freshman year, and the extreme lack of land, especially with the parking structure now closed, has made parking on campus very difficult,” Stefanek said.
University administrators reported that 79.2% of EMU students attend classes on campus at some point during the week. A few others, around 20%, attend online only.
A parking map created by the private company that manages campus parking shows 21 parking lots for commuters on campus. However, one of them is the closed parking structure. Another is the downtown Ypsilanti business school, which the university sold in June.
Additionally, seven of these lots prohibit daytime parking for commuters, allowing access only after 5 p.m. Many of these lots are intended for commuters and university staff. Some are also available for those who live on campus.
The most popular suburban lots are Mark Jefferson (or Science Complex Lot) on the southwest corner of campus, Oakwood on the west side, and Pease on the south near the main West Cross Street entrance. Mark Jefferson has 433 seats. Oakwood has 106. Pease has 112. These lots are closest to the majority of class buildings, fueling competition for these locations.
University administrators acknowledged the inconvenience caused by the closure of the structure and said that a large number of authorized parking spaces were still available, but not as close to the classroom buildings as students might wish.
“The parking system has been the same for many, many years and tends to be off campus, as is the case at many universities,” said Melissa Thrasher, director of media relations at EMU, in a written statement. “The supply and demand of the parking system is still clearly in favor of supply, which anyone can see any day during peak hours around campus, namely in the north and green lots .”
Access to the north and green lots is from North Huron River Drive on the north side of campus. Another commuter option is the Ford lot off East Circle Drive on the east side of campus.
In 2017, EMU privatized parking under a 35-year deal with LAZ Parking, a company that manages university and government parking systems. Park EMU is the name of the operation that manages EMU’s parking system, including application, customer service and support under the management of LAZ Parking.
The semi-annual parking permit fee has increased every year since 2018, when it was $163. In fall 2021, the price of a parking pass increased to $188, then again to $198 for the fall 2022 semester.
“I find it hard to believe I would have to walk across campus to class when I paid so much money to park closer to my classroom buildings,” said Taylor Harris, a student in biology at EMU, in a written statement. “In addition to paid lots, why should I pay so much per hour to park near my classroom buildings when I pay so much money to even park.”
Five paid lots are also available on campus for a cost of $2 per hour with a maximum price of $14 per day.
“Paid lots on campus are typically located around areas where guests are most likely to come to campus for events, not where academic buildings are,” Thrasher said.
She also said that the paid lots are primarily for non-students coming to EMU for special occasions, but the location of the lots could make parking more accessible to students. However, students with parking passes cannot park in parking lots without paying the fee.
According to a chart provided by EMU administrators, the likelihood of finding a spot in a desired space after 9 a.m. is slim, so arriving on campus early is the best bet for securing a nearby parking spot. Other than that, available authorized parking spots are in the North and Green lots, about an 8-10 minute walk from Mark Jefferson.
With winter weather fast approaching, students dread walking far to class in the Michigan snow.
“Winter weather is an unfortunate part of life in Michigan,” Thrasher said. “However, there is ample parking available on campus at all times of the day and within a reasonably short walking distance (8-10 minutes).”
Students who spoke to The Echo about their parking experience said it was suboptimal at EMU, feeling heavily affected by the price of a permit and the availability of parking spaces. Students also criticized the parking situation on the EMU Engage app and social media site Reddit.
Thrasher said the price increases reflect the costs of repairing and maintaining the lots. She also said the ability to park near college buildings is an issue on many college campuses.
“We don’t want anyone to feel offended by the on-campus parking experience,” Thrasher said. “Parking is a necessary aspect of being a commuter on any college campus.”
While administrators maintain the position that a large number of authorized parking spaces are available for students on campus, students on the whole seem to disagree.
“I’m not going to use the paid lots to park near my classroom buildings when I’m paying close to $200 per semester,” Harris said. “It sounds like a broken record, but Eastern needs to do better.”