For the first time in two years, Valparaiso University’s Parking and Transportation Services released a list of campus parking changes for the 2022-2023 school year. The pandemic was pointed to as the reason for the delayed changes. While the changes are fairly substantial, they are alluding to an increasing amount of normalcy returning to campus.
A total of 13 parking lots and the parking ramp underwent classification changes for the new academic year. East campus (around Gellerson Hall) was the primary destination the changes occurred, with only one main issue area targeted on the west end of campus. Changes were driven from data collected in fall 2020 through spring 2022 by both Parking and Transportation Services and classes in the engineering department.
“The fall of 2020, a COVID year, wasn’t a good year to collect data because a number of classes were held remotely and it didn’t give us a very accurate picture,” said Adam Klos, Parking and Transportation Manager. “We like to look at both the fall and spring to give us a more accurate picture because there could be an issue over the fall, but then not in the spring or vice versa. Using the whole year gives us a more holistic view there.”
Other factors that the members of Parking and Transportation Services focus on is the demographic of drivers coming to campus. They then take that data and assess its relation to campus’ parking layout.
“Prior to COVID, every year we submit to campus planning various ideas we have that’ll help utilize parking around campus. Some years there’s more areas that need to be addressed than others. It just depends on if we have more residents this year or if we have more commuters this year,” Klos said.
In addition to data brought forth, Parking and Transportation Services works with Student Senate to assess any other student concerns. The university has four different parking permit classification options: upperclassmen resident, faculty and staff, commuter and freshmen residents. Parking areas for every group were taken into consideration and eventually prompted the adjustments.
“At the end of each year going into the summer, we take a look at areas on campus that were underutilized, what areas that were off-kilter as far as supply and demand, people needing to park and lack of parking spaces,” Klos said. “[We] look at what areas are an issue as far as we’re not meeting the needs of either students or staff in those areas, what areas are underutilized [and] how we can better use areas there.”
Most notably, one of the larger problem areas took form in Lot 43, located adjacent to Guild-Memorial Hall. Throughout the years, there has been an influx in residents on the west end of campus due to the addition of the Sorority Complex.
Initially, the parking lot had separate areas for residents, commuters and staff. Following the recent changes, the lot converted two commuter rows to residential parking. Three existing rows now accept both commuter and staff permit holders.
“For several years we’ve heard frustrations from residential students about a lack of residential parking in Lot 43 because you have Guild-Memorial and Sorority [Complex] that feed that lot, which has quite a few resident parking pass holders in that area,” Klos said. “In fall of 2021 that was a concern that was brought forth by Student Senate, so that was an area we wanted to address.”
The opportunity to reduce the amount of staff parking in Lot 43 was also a result of Alumni Relations and the Office of Advancement moving out of Loke Hall and into the Harre Union and Heritage Hall.
On the east side of campus, Parking and Transportation Services focused heavily on the balance and flow of the commuter to staff parking spaces ratio.
“It seems to be an issue every year. The volume of classes that take place at that end of campus is intense and we just don’t have the size of parking lots we do in the middle of campus,” Klos said.
Seven academic buildings and one administrative building are located on the eastern side of the university: Urschel Hall, Schnabel Hall, Kallay-Christopher Hall, Center for the Arts, Kretzmann Hall, Center for the Sciences, Meier Hall and Gellerson Hall. Five parking lots immediately surround the area, dedicated to commuters and staff.
“So we looked at how we could increase our commuter parking at the east end of campus, particularly over by Urschel Hall, which tends to be a hotspot. This was something else that Student Senate had put in their report,” Klos said. “We want the students to know that it’s not going to completely resolve the congestion of commuter parking over there, but we hear you and we understand it’s an issue and we’re trying to address that for you.”
Lot 1 is dedicated to staff parking in the area, but in the recent changes one row of parking spaces was converted to commuter parking. Parking spaces located to the east of Gellerson Hall were formerly staff and commuter but are now solely staff. Spaces on the east of Urschel Hall were also staff, but have since changed to commuter parking.
The final change on east campus consisted of converting two of the eight ADA spaces between Center for the Arts and Schnabel Hall to visitor parking.
Near the center of campus, three parking areas surrounding Scheele and Lankenau Halls previously classified as commuter have switched to residential: parking east of the tennis courts, directly south of the dorm buildings and spaces east of the halls. Spots between Brandt Hall and Neils Science Center served as visitor parking, but are now for staff.
“We looked at the usage of the parking ramp too. The parking ramp over the past several years has been upperclassmen residents and staff,” Klos said. “We had the top level of the ramp that the vast majority had not been used. So we thought what if we were to take some of the residential freshmen from Lot 37 and put them on the top level.”
Interested freshmen were able to fill out an application over the summer to enter a lottery system. Roughly 100 first-years were chosen from the lottery and are able to park on the top level of the structure.
An email detailing the parking changes was sent on Aug. 23. Klos stresses the importance of having a parking plan for when students and staff reach campus to help reduce any potential parking violations.
“As we go on in the fall semester, people should be picking up on these changes… If you park in the wrong zone, you are subject to a parking violation,” Klos said. “Identify your primary lots you want to park in and also identify your secondary lots so you have that backup plan.”
A parking map can be found at valpo.edu/aux/parking.