Opinion: NIU must improve parking

By Maddie Steen

Sophomore biology major Heather Moore created a GoFundMe page to raise funds that will go towards a new parking lot after noticing that students are constantly complaining about a lack of parking space. Though this could potentially make a difference, students can also try turning to alternative transportation options for the time being.

The page, created Oct. 15, states parking has been an issue for many years and students need to be in class, but can’t because they’re in the parking lot trying to find a spot. The goal is to raise $30,000 by March 31, 2017. While the page has been up since Oct. 15 and has gotten 134 shares on Facebook and Twitter, only one person has donated $20.

Considering this has been a problem for years, solving parking issues should not be the responsibility of students.

“I came to NIU in 2011, and while I really loved my time at [NIU], the parking was an absolute nightmare,” said 2015 Alumnus Derek Struve. “I resorted to paying the $5 visitor lot fee to guarantee myself parking for class. I did this three times a week.”

I believe NIU should provide students with more parking, not the students. We pay enough extra fees as it is. NIU can take my $271.08 per semester that goes to Athletics and put that toward the lack of parking spaces.

“We have approximately 10,000 parking spaces on our campus. So far this academic year we have sold 12,500 permits,” said Director of Parking Services Darren Mitchell.

Mitchel does not think a new parking lot is necessary at this time as he believes we have an adequate amount of parking on campus to accommodate students, staff and visitors.

“The parking is atrocious because of how many parking passes that NIU gives out,” said Martin Díaz de León Jr., senior psychology major and commuter. “The school hands out more parking passes than there are parking spaces, which doesn’t sound bad until you have to start looking for parking spaces. In the past, I’ve had to resort to parking off campus at fast food locations and across the street from a dorm.”

A solution is needed, but I don’t know if a new parking lot is really necessary, especially to be paid for by students. There are other solutions the school has provided in order to fix this situation.

Parking services has a borrow-a-bike program where students have the opportunity to rent a bike out for the entire semester. The department of Military and Post-Traditional Student Services have an NIU Carpool Connections Facebook group students can join using their Z-ID in order to find rides with students from their area.

We have a bus system that goes throughout the town, on different routes, to pick students up and take them to class or to the shopping area of DeKalb, according to the parking services website.

Students need to start using these instead of getting commuter passes when they may live in DeKalb. If students live in DeKalb and get passes to park instead of taking the bus, that leaves less room for the actual commuters coming from out of town. Walking and taking the bus may not be ideal in the winter, but if these services are available and students use them, it is likely a new parking lot would not be needed anyways.

I strongly encourage students to use the alternative transportation methods rather than driving from Greek Row to campus, maybe then the parking problem would finally be solved.

Mitchel also said students should take advantage of lots K and L, as they almost always have open room. These parking lots may not be ideal and as close to classes, but it’s only a five to 10 minute walk to campus. Maybe the only real problem is trying to find a parking spot right outside of DuSable Hallor the Engineering Building.

If students really want a new parking lot, I urge them to get online and make a donation on GoFundMe by searching “NIU Parking Solutions”. It’s going to take a lot more than just $30,000 though, Director Mitchel said each space alone could cost that amount if a new parking deck were to be constructed.

Correction: The Northern Star mistakenly reported Alumnus Derek Struve’s name as Dereck Struve. The error has been corrected.