Tuesday, August 22, 2006

the last word on parking

You know what gets on my nerves? People who think they have the solution to this school’s parking problem. They think, as this woman posted on the professor’s blog, that the solution is to get here early.

Brilliant! That works if, say, your first class is at 9:30 a.m. or maybe even 11 a.m. If you think you can roll in at 9:20 for that first class, well, it obviously doesn’t work that way. And that can be frustrating but that's the way it goes. You need to be here before 8 a.m. Too bad. But that’s not what I’m complaining about and I don’t think that’s what most students get upset about.

(I’m not claiming to have the solution to the parking problem either. I’m just pointing out the absurdity of denying that parking would be less of a problem because people don’t get here early enough.)

The problem, see, is twofold:

First, law school is not an 8-5 job. People spend upwards of 10-15 (or more!) hours a day on campus. (Especially 1Ls, who have been known to go several weeks in a row spending inordinate amounts of time doing work for law school) It’s not unreasonable to want to leave for a few hours when you have a large gap in your schedule. But if your first class is over at 11 and your next class isn’t until 4:30, you’re screwed. You can’t go anywhere and come back if you want to park nearby. While most 3Ls and some 2Ls with early registration times have control over their schedules, that still leaves about half the students with no control over when they can schedule classes. So these people are within their rights to be upset at the parking problem.

Second, a large percentage of students here (2Ls and 3Ls, at least) have other things going on besides classes. For instance, many of us have jobs! Yes, it’s true! And that includes internships, clinics, volunteer activities, etc., (and many law students actually have lives outside of school and don’t want to be chained to the law school campus for nine hours a day and would rather come and go). And if we’re not lucky enough to be able to create a schedule that leaves us entire days without a single class, we have to go back and forth between jobs and school. That’s a huge problem. Last semester I had to leave my job – which was a 10-minute drive from campus – an hour before class so I could find a parking space or leave time for the shuttle if I couldn’t find somewhere. (and don’t get me started on the inefficiencies of the shuttle). I know someone who has no classes earlier than 2 p.m. on any day so she can work mornings most days. That’s great. It would be even better if she could work until 1:30, pull up to campus, and then show up on campus just in time for class.

So once again, I don’t have a grand solution to the problem. But at minimum, it makes sense to acknowledge that there’s a problem and getting here early is not necessarily a solution to the problem.


At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the people who are waiting to accost you the moment you start walking down the path leaving the law school? I almost feel euphoric when I leave, and having some dude in a Lexus or pimped-out truck with the radio blasting asking me if he can follow me to my car is not how I want to end my day.

At 7:56 PM, Blogger Jacob said...

Getting to class earlier will not fix parking problems because it doesn't correct the scarcity of parking spaces. The number of students and spaces remain the same. The only way timing could be relevant is if schedules were coordinated to open up parking spaces. That's assuming that people don't stay on campus all day. I'm one of the types that goes home to study. I can't get much work done when people want to talk and I have to leave to get food.

I have a some ideas to reduce the parking problem.

(1) Have people live on campus and not bring cars (or park in an immense lot off-campus, now it's no longer a parking problem but housing problem)
(2) Create a huge parking deck (although, it would never keep pace with increasing enrollement)
(3)Buy a huge parcel of land and create a giant parking lot with shuttle-service
(4) More varied and efficient public transportation (bus and train/subway).

It's a lot like fixing parking problems in urban areas. The easiest way is to reduce the need to drive. Once the need to drive is reduced the even harder part is reducing the desire to drive. It's hard to fix parking problems. If you're a metropolis then you can potentially get the money to improve parking. However, if you're a metropolis, then you have even greater demand which reduces the benefit of those efforts to improve parking.

At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended UM for both undergrad and law school and lived on campus when I was an undergrad. We used to have a parking problem at the dorms, but, you know what? One summer I went home, and when I came back in the fall, there was a brand new parking garage standing where the inadequate parking lot once was! Clearly, if UM wanted to alleviate the parking problem at the law school they could put a garage on the existing lot. I have a feeling that summer school attendees would put up with the headache for 2 months if it would cure the other 10 months of headaches.

At 1:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's two parking related ideas.

1) Since the lanes are one-way already, why not paint slanted lines rather than requiring an 8 point k turn to park.

2) Park in the garages that are currently in existence.

At 1:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the neighbors prevented us from putting a parking structure on the existing law school lot - we looked at that in SBA.

It would have been an awesome solution.

At 1:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prof State and Local Gov't's solution - he decided to start our 8am class at 7:45am every day, so "that way, everybody gets a parking spot".

Honestly, my 1L, I think I had 8ams every morning.


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