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Parking changes on campus lead to student confusion

Parking looks different on campus this year, including new spots designated for commuters.
Parking looks different on campus this year, including new spots designated for commuters.

After Miami University announced a new zonal parking system, some students are left confused, but Miami officials hope that the change will help decongest lots.

The changes came in early August and divided commuters and residents among three outer lots: Chestnut Fields, Ditmer and West Millett. First-year students are required to park in the West Millett lot. However, upperclassmen may purchase a permit for Ditmer or Chestnut Fields. 

In previous years, students could purchase a permit for any lot. 

These commuter and residential parking areas are denoted with signs throughout each lot, and overflow parking is available for anyone with a parking pass at Millett.

All parking permits can be purchased daily or per semester. The daily pass is another new development this semester; previously, students could only purchase semester-long permits.

Overflowing lots inspires change

Andy Rosenberger, director of parking and transportation services, said in previous years, the Chestnut Fields and Ditmer lots filled up quickly compared to the West Millett lot, causing congestion and frustration among commuters.

After researching three different parking systems used by other universities, the zonal system was adopted in an effort to decrease traffic and minimize carbon emissions.

“That’s the goal,” Rosenberger said. “To make sure when you come to campus and you know what lot you’re going to, you know there’s going to be a spot there for you.”

For some students, this new parking system is inconvenient. Paolo Papalia, a first-year finance major, lives on Western Campus but is required to keep his car at Millett despite his proximity to Ditmer.

“Ditmer is easier for me to park,” Papalia said. “I think what they should do is assign each student based on where they’re living at.”

Some upperclassmen also dislike the location of these outer lots. Daniel Coates, a senior political science major, lives off-campus but is unable to use his car due to the distance of these lots from his classes.

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“Whenever I have to get to campus for something, my options are very, very limited,” Coates said.

Additionally, students parked in the West Millett lot are required to move their vehicles before home football games.

Rosenberger said compared to other universities, like Oregon State University, Vanderbilt University and University of California-Davis, these inconveniences are minor. Butler County Regional Transit Authority buses make frequent stops to pick up students from Millett, and all legal spots on-campus are free parking for students throughout the weekend.

“What we’ve found is that some of these other universities are making their first-year students walk double what we’re asking students to do,” Rosenberger said.

New system causes some confusion for students

Since implementing the new zonal system, parking enforcement officers have sent several emails and warnings to residential students parked in the wrong area. Last week, officers started ticketing.

Despite some confusion, Rosenberger said the new system seems to be working.

“We’ve driven around and there’s not an outer lot where there’s not parking,” Rosenberger said. “There’s space for anybody: commuters or if you’re residential.”

However, Papalia said he’s had difficulty with the new zonal parking system and that the commuter and residential sections are difficult to distinguish, despite signage throughout the lots.

“Ditmer is designed much better because one corner of the parking lot is all for commuters, and it’s separated by the actual road path,” Papalia said.

Although students got an email detailing the new parking changes, Papalia didn’t see it and received several warnings before getting a $75 ticket after parking in the wrong lot and zone.

For students confused about a recent warning or ticket, Rosenberger said they should reach out to Campus Services and appeal it.

“What we’re trying to do is manage a complex parking system to get people to obey by the rules,” Rosenberger said. “If you follow the rules, you should have a place to park because that’s the way we’ve designed it.”

Maps detailing the new parking sections are available online.