Sophomore drivers denied parking spots despite empty lot

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Photo by Mandy Schoen

The lower lot is filled with available spaces throughout the entire school day.

Looking out through a window from the school’s second story, you can catch a view of a lonely parking lot littered with open spaces. In this unusual school year, with only a third of the parking spades filled on the average day, why are we denying student drivers a place to park solely based on their grade?

Currently, sophomore drivers who are returning to school in person are not permitted to park in the school parking lot. Despite having their license, these students are forced to park elsewhere or get dropped off at school, all while dozens of spots go unused throughout the day.

The administration’s main concern is avoiding confusion caused by the influx of students transferring from online to in person and vice versa. “As of now, I am not sure I would say there is an ‘abundance of open spots.’ It is true that we try and generally keep some parking spots open and available just in case something were to arise.  This year especially, with students changing their preference about in-person learning at any time, organizing permits for the students only gets more and more complex. It also helps to have clear guidelines about something like this so that in the future, the messaging remains clear and consistent,” sophomore Administrator Nick Hitchen said.

There are only a couple of us sophomores that are returning to school in-person and can drive ourselves. I don’t think providing those extra three to seven people with spaces will negatively impact anyone.”

— Ashlyn Fritz

Although it is important to keep rules simple and consistent, an unprecedented year such as this often calls for unprecedented changes. Hitchen’s concern of keeping spots open in case of a change of plans is valid, especially with the constant rotations of student schedules. However, on a Friday afternoon during B week, only about 65 out of the 195 spots were taken. Those 130 extra spots in the lower lot alone certainly seem to classify as an excess. “There are only a couple of us sophomores that are returning to school in-person and can drive ourselves. I don’t think providing those extra three to seven people with spaces will negatively impact anyone,” sophomore Ashlyn Fritz said.

In addition, the inability of some students to drive themselves greatly impacted their decisions of whether to return to in-person school or not. “Personally, the parking situation had a huge impact on deciding to stay home this year. It is inconvenient to find other rides home and then drive myself back later for sports practices. If there are spots available it doesn’t hurt anyone to give them to students who would really benefit from having a spot,” sophomore Josh Mirsky said. 

Despite the numerous complaints received from sophomore students and parents, the administration has chosen not to alter the parking policy for the remainder of the school year. “My mom and I both emailed my counselor, the principal and security, and I sent them pictures of all the empty spots available while I was at school. However, they refused to change their stance on the issue,” Fritz said.

The unique number of students in the building continues to present new challenges for the school to handle, including this parking debacle. “Parking, as you know, can be a very contentious issue in the community and having clear guidelines surrounding it often helps to keep everything civil. The drawbacks here would be that a few sophomores will either need to take the bus, walk or find another way to get to and from school,” Hitchens said.