Inadequate student parking raises concerns

College campuses across the country are affected by parking, or lack thereof, every year. And FAMU’s campus is no different.

According to Assistant Director of Parking Services Mary Adams, there are 4,172 students registered to park and only 2,174 designated spaces.

“Everybody (parking) on campus does not have a registered vehicle, though, because they say they are afraid that we will find out how many tickets they have,” Adams said.

Thus, there is no way to calculate how many of the more than 12,000 students at FAMU attempt to park in the limited spaces available.

This inadequacy leads to a slew of other problems such as, illegal parking andtraffic congestion.

“There just isn’t enough available student parking on campus,” said Latressa Preston, a senior political science student from Sarasota. “I only live a 10-minute (drive) from campus and I have to leave my house at least an hour before my class just so I can find somewhere to park.”

Nicole Baker, a junior from Virginia Beach, Va., said her issue is she’s a

nursing student and there is no parking near Ware Rhaney except for one parking

lot that is for employees only.

“So I have to either park on the street, which leaves my car more susceptible to

being hit, or I have to park at the stadium or the garage, then it’ll take me 15

minutes just to walk to class,” Baker said.

Major changes in parking as outlined in FAMU’s master plan could either help or

hinder students parking on campus.

“In the master plan (since in 1985), it calls for a permanent closing of Gamble

Street, and also the elimination of Osceola Street through the southern portion

of the campus,” said Sam Huston, director of construction and planning. “Those

streets identify that we are looking at a pedestrian campus. We are trying to

eliminate traffic through the center of campus.”

Those plans are a long way off, though, according to Huston.

“We will not start the permanent closing of roads on campus until we do the

expansion of a ring road around the western portion of the campus,” Huston said.

According to Huston, the exact date of permanently closing the campus is

“predicated on land acquisition and extension of the additional ring road around

the campus. It’s in the master plan for the next 20 years.”

Even though April Chalmers, a senior business administration major from

Charlotte, N.C., might not ever see these changes, she said she doesn’t

understand how closing the campus will increase available parking.

John Erst, Assistant Chief of FAMU police, said the closure is likely to

improve traffic congestion, though.

“When you have the commingling of vehicular and pedestrian traffic then that in

and of itself is not the best arrangement. But then we know that its an absolute

necessity under certain circumstances,” Erst said. “So if conditions would

permit for the separation of the two under any circumstances, I think we’re the

better for it.”

The master plan also calls for the addition of five new parking garages in the

next several years. Unfortunately, their erection doesn’t seem likely, Huston

said, because of lack of funding.

“We have parking structures that are in the master plan, but we have not

identified building any new parking garages at this time. Parking garages are

supposed to be self-supporting and we have to sell bonds to get those built. We

are not getting funding on a yearly basis for parking garages,” Huston said.

For students who have late classes, extra curricular activities that run into

the wee hours of the night or who stay at the library until closing, safety is

an issue when walking across campus to your vehicle.

Chalmers’ major gripe is not being able to park in a gated/restricted area if

she’s on campus late at night.

The Parking and Traffic Regulations manual, effective Aug. 1, 2001, describes a

restricted area as “an area wherein a motor vehicle may not be parked unless it

bears the appropriate decal for that area.” The manual also states that, “hours

of restriction are between 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday, unless

otherwise indicated.”

However, Director of Parking Services John Kirby said, “The policy of gated

parking lots being restricted 24 hours a day, five days a week has been in

effect since about 1996.”

Kirby also stated that students parking in gated lots Monday through Friday are

subject to ticketing and towing at any time.

“I think parking there should be allowed after hours, Chalmers said. “If (FAMU)

was really concerned about students’ safety, they would allow students to park

closer to buildings like the library when you know some leave the library at 1


“There’s no system – if something does happen to a student, like if they’re

being attacked on the way to their car – there’s no way that they can alert

somebody to come help them,” Chalmers said.

But, according to Erst, there is a system to assist the late-goers on campus and

it multi-faceted.

Besides patrolling the campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week in marked police

cars and bicycle and foot patrols, there is also the safe team, Erst said.

“We have the university safe team, two-member teams comprised of students which

provide escorts for faculty, staff, as well as students from any location on

campus,” Erst said. “So we feel the campus is quite safe, and those who don’t

feel comfortable, we strongly recommend that they call the FAMU police

department, we’re here 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The safe team provides services until 1 a.m. , for assistance call 599-3795 or