Written by Tiane Davis // Photo by Morgan Pickering
Harding Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced during chapel last week that the parking lot near Graduate Hall and Brackett Library would be opened to students for overnight parking.
This change was a result of Public Safety’s constant reevaluation of student and faculty needs, assistant director of Public Safety Kevin Davis said. Every year, Public Safety takes time to compare the amount of registered vehicles on campus versus parking spots available.
“Parking is an issue on every college campus,” Davis said. “We evaluated all the needs and tried to balance what’s fair to most students in general. Everyone decided that it was the right time to open up that parking lot for overnight parking.”
Davis said the parking lot was previously only open for day parking to accommodate commuters because there were not as many parking lots available in previous years. He said in the past few years, Public Safety has added parking spaces to multiple areas on the north side of campus to help with that problem, which made it possible for the change to be made.
The main goal Public Safety has, Davis said, is making sure parking is accessible for all those who need it.
“We’re not out to punish anyone at all,” he said. “We are doing our best to balance the needs of all of our constituents here between faculty, staff and students, including the ones who commute.”
Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Zach Neal said the University has more parking spots than vehicles registered, but “feedback from students has consistently included the request for more centralized parking.”
“I fully supported Public Safety’s idea to allow overnight parking behind the Benson,” Neal said. “Kudos to their insight in responding to student requests.”
Amanda Colón, the residence life coordinator for Graduate Hall, said she has advocated for the change for years because it is often a major point of stress for students who live there to not be able to park nearby.
Every August, Colón said she has to clarify to students moving in that the parking lot is not available to them overnight because they otherwise assume they are allowed to park in white painted spots overnight.
“I think it’s going to make their lives a lot easier,” Colón said. “It just makes sense to have it available to them.”
Junior Jaxon Hardy, a resident at Graduate Hall, said having the parking lot open all night makes life much easier for him. He previously usually parked behind the Rhodes-Reaves Field House, and when that parking lot was full, he would park in the Ganus Athletic Center parking lot.
“I no longer have to stress about finding an open parking spot when I take those last-second Walmart runs at 11 at night,” Hardy said. Hardy, who is a member of the track and field team, said his daily routine has changed since Public Safety made the announcement.
He said having his car closer helps him get to morning practices more efficiently instead of having to leave earlier to walk.
“Having less of a walk for my car makes my life way more convenient,” Hardy said. “It just makes life in Grad dorm much easier.”
However, Hardy said he thinks the parking situation at Harding has room for improvement, even after the change was made.
“It still is hard sometimes to find an open parking space when you really need it,” Hardy said. “It gets even worse when there are visitors, to the point you have to take the ticket and park in a red parking spot so you are not late for class.”