Letter to the Editor: Parking is worse at a university nearby

Mariel Nupp, Student

In response to the recent opinion piece about parking conditions on campus, I would like to add a few more points to the discussion. This issue can be viewed from two perspectives – given our situation, parking should be a lot better. On the other hand, it is far worse at another university.

I am currently a freshman and have had a few friends attend UPJ prior to me. I used to think that their parking complaints were utterly ridiculous – ridiculous – considering my dual-enrollment experience at IUP.

Because I lived in Indiana Borough, the university would not issue me a commuter pass; I either had to use the pay-by-space or metered areas. Being the cheap risk-taker that I am, I did neither, either parking at my friend’s dorm, which just happened to be right next to the University Police, or in the nearby Giant Eagle Express parking lot.

I believe I survived the school year with only four parking tickets and no repercussions from Giant Eagle. Even so, it was a pain everyday.

I considered UPJ students to be fortunate beyond measure – spots right in front of the freshman dorms, Biddle Hall parking, also close to the dorms, two lots near the townhouses, plus ample parking near the road for those who rarely use their cars. Additionally, the campus is small and relatively flat.

Once the school year started, however, I soon began to sympathize with parking woes. When such convenient parking exists and is not available, the “far away” parking quickly becomes seen as a major campus incompetency and vicious plot against student happiness.

I initially avoided the narrow and pothole-ridden entrances to the townhouse lots, thinking that they were actually footpaths. With the land the university owns, we honestly should not have a parking deficiency. IUP has approximately 15,000 students and 374 acres. In contrast, UPJ has approximately 3,000 students and 655 acres – 1/5 the students and almost double the land.

If we consider location, it becomes even more obvious. UPJ is located on the outskirts of Richland Township in a commercially built-up area full of housing developments and highways. It lies outside most of that, with ample land to expand.

Development along Schoolhouse Road quickly drops off to nothing after passing campus, and virtually nothing exists south of campus until Windber and its surrounding communities. Endless possibility for expansion exists, and UPJ needs to face its increasing student population.

At least IUP has reason for awful parking conditions, as it is a prime example of  situation far worse than ours. Located in the middle of a thriving town, it can expand only upward or by demolishing nearby buildings. Resident parking permits are $200, and that lasts only for the fall and spring semesters.

Those students must park their cars in a gravel parking lot approximately a mile from campus. The cost and location both purposely act as a deterrent because the university simply does not have the space for every resident student’s vehicle.

Commuter permits are free of charge; however, it is nearly impossible to find a space. Here at UPJ, students often risk parking in upper class or faculty parking with or without a permit, usually with no consequence. IUP campus police enforce a strict ticketing policy; 20 minutes away from your illegally parked vehicle, and you will return to find a $15 violation that turns into $20 after five days unpaid.

Unpaid violations also impose a financial hold on a student’s account, prohibiting registration and transcript viewing and sending. Tickets at UPJ are only $10, do not increase, and have no effect on registration or graduation.

Yes, student complaints here are indeed valid – there is no reason for the lack of available and convenient parking. However, we should still consider ourselves fortunate in light of the problems and inconveniences that students of another university face. As is the case with most life experiences: someone always has it better – but someone always has it worse.


-Mariel Nupp