New parking options are a great convenience for dorm residents

Neptune and Gilbert Hall residents

The+parking+lot+behind+Gabel+Hall+sits+empty+Monday.+During+a+typical+semester%2C+Lot+38+is+usually+full%2C+but+due+to+the+NIU%27s+campus+shutting+down%2C+most+of+the+parking+lots+are+barren.

Patrick Murphy | Northern Star

The parking lot behind Gabel Hall sits empty in April. During a typical semester, Lot 38 is usually full.

Parker Otto, Contributor

For years, the only option for students living in the residence halls to park their cars were the Orange lots by Grant and Stevenson Towers and New Hall. This gave students at Neptune and Gilbert Halls a disadvantage. This was until Campus Parking Services, on Sept. 18, notified students at the respective residence halls they could park closer to their dorms. This move has been a helpful convenience toward and improved life for students living on campus .

During the week of Sept. 21, stickers were sent to the students of Neptune and Gilbert Halls who had purchased an Orange Parking Pass. These stickers, if placed on the parking passes, would give students living in Neptune the option to park on the top floor of NIU’s parking garage and Gilbert students could park in Lot V by Anderson Hall, according to the Sept. 18 email sent by Campus Parking Services.

Having my own personal transportation is essential, which is why the decision by Campus Parking Services has greatly improved my stay at Neptune Hall.

During my sophomore year, I brought my car up with me to use at my leisure. Before, I had used the Huskie Line of Buses and, while they were great for getting around campus, taking them to Downtown DeKalb and the retail district on Sycamore Road was more challenging. This is because the bus stops were more spaced out and they only stopped there once every hour-long run due to the extensive nature of Routes 17 and 18, according to the City of DeKalb’s website. 

While I still use the buses to get around campus, I like to conserve time when leaving NIU and exploring DeKalb. So, having my own wheels for my sophomore year and beyond was necessary. Once I had my car however, I had to park at the only Orange lots available on campus which are located by Grant and Stevenson Towers and New Hall. 

This meant that I’d have to walk from Neptune Hall to get my car at New Hall on the weekdays, when parking rules were being enforced, which would take ten minutes. During the heavy snowfalls, the route could sometimes take 15 minutes. 

Since I would go see films at the local AMC or hang out with friends off campus, I would often have to walk back alone at night. While I know NIU is a statistically safe campus, being on my own at night still made me feel uneasy.

Now that COVID-19 has depleted the amount of in-person classes on campus, many of the parking lots meant for commuter students are now empty. During the first few weeks of the semester, I wondered why I had to walk ten minutes to get my car when all of these lots close to me were going unused.

Then, like a guardian angel, I received the email from Campus Parking Services and got my sticker for my parking pass. For the past two weeks I’ve been parking in the parking garage and I’ve been nothing short of happy. The time it takes to get my car has been cut in half and I feel a lot safer walking back to my dorm room after a night at work or going to see a film.

The decision to have Gilbert and Neptune students park closer has also made them safer because, instead of going to the other residence halls and interacting with students who live there, they can stay close to their respective residence halls. That way, if an outbreak of COVID-19 occurred in a residence hall, it would be easier for the university to contain it to one hall.

In the past, NIU has been very accommodating to me and my stay at Neptune Hall which is why this decision has been a very positive addition to the lives of students living in residence halls. While this action is convenient now, when the Northern Illinois Winter inevitably sets in, it will be even more essential to have closer parking. 

It is clear that these stickers are only for the Fall 2020 semester, but I hope that Campus Parking Services continues to provide closer parking for the foreseeable future. Even when in-person classes resume, having closer parking for the students who live in Gilbert and Neptune residence halls is not only more comfortable, but it makes us feel more included at NIU. 

Since students are paying upwards of $4,954 to stay in residence halls, having equally close parking is only fair. Campus Parking Services has taken those steps to accommodate students and they should be recognized for this smart move.