A lack of parking spaces at Williams has resulted in parking problems for students, faculty, staff and community members alike.
Assistant Director of Security and chair of the subcommittee on parking David Boyer said that this has been a continual problem, although it has intensified over the last three years.
Boyer said the problem is the result of the presence of more student cars on campus and a lack of spaces to accomodate them. Previously, this was only an issue at the end of the year, but this year it has been a problem since Labor Day.
There are presently about 621 student spaces and 870 faculty spaces available at Williams. With over one thousand faculty and staff and members of three classes of students trying to park, this has resulted in a vast shortage of spaces on campus.
A result of the lack of spaces has been a problem with students parking illegally to in order to be closer to their residences. Boyer said that students who live in more remote areas, such as Garfield, will park illegally because of hardships involved in loading and unloading cars. He advised that when doing this, students should have someone sit in the car until they are done, because if security sees a car parked with just the hazard lights flashing, it will be ticketed.
Boyer said that parking has also been a problem for staff. With more employees driving, and spaces in the Office of Career Counseling lot being taken up by student cars, faculty members are having trouble finding spaces in the vicinity of their destinations.
Boyer said that there are older employees who have a hard time walking far on the ice and snow, “This year has been especially hard because of the weather conditions,” he said.
There are also many faculty complaints of students driving to class and taking faculty spaces. Boyer said that when this happens faculty members should take down the student’s license plate and decal numbers and give them to security so that the students will be ticketed. Students are not allowed to park anywhere on campus other than in their assigned lots before 6:00 PM.
Another time when parking becomes an issue for the school is on parent weekends. Security gives parents a list of appropriate places to park and negotiates spaces from the First Congregational Church for temporary registration parking, but this does not completely alleviate the problem. Boyer commented that one of the worst areas is around Sage and Williams because parents will park on both sides of the road, making it so narrow that emergency vehicles would not be able to get through if necessary.
Last year, security used an online preregistration process for students to sign up for parking spaces. The form became available at noon on July first and students could then sign up for the lot they wanted. If they did not get their first choice, they were put on a waiting list and assigned to the next available lot. Boyer said that security is planning to use this same process again next year because there were fewer complaints about it than about the previous system.
Registration was previously done by mail, but many students who live far from Williamstown complained that closer students got the form before others.
According to Boyer, “The Trustees have said that there will not be any more parking spaces on campus.” Boyer said that three years ago hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to build new lots.
Boyer commented, “Several years ago there was talk of limiting vehicles to just juniors and seniors,” but that this issue is not currently being discussed. He said that is not possible because, “Realistically, it’s hard to take away a privilege once it’s here.”
One temporary solution which security has implemented is to issue off-campus decals. Boyer said that this has had a negative impact on the community and there have been many complaints from both businesses and residents. The college also has an agreement with St. Patrick’s church to allow students who live off-campus and want to use the OCC to park there during the day.
According to Boyer, there is nothing the College can do to prevent students from bringing their cars and parking off campus. He did comment, though, that once the cars are parked off-campus they fall under the jurisdiction of the Williamstown police, who will ticket, especially on Spring and Park streets.
There are hopes that the problem will resolve itself in about two years. Boyer said that admissions will be accepting smaller classes than it has been, which should eventually ease some of the parking tensions.
Boyer said that visitors tend to have a lot of trouble parking on campus because they do not have decals and do not know where it is legal to park. He advised that visitors go to the security office when they arrive so that they can pick up a visitor’s decal and find out where they should park. Boyer said that they can also pick up a VIP card, a card that will let them into the dorm of the person they are staying with in case of separation.
Ryan Mayhew ’01 said “I love my parking situation.” A resident of Bascom, he has a parking spot in the Bascom lot, which is right next to the building. He said that this “makes it extremely convenient whenever I need to use the car.” Mayhew also said that he had no complaints about the online registration system and that it works better than mail because its speed.
Dan Chu ’99 said that it is “a healthy walk” from his dorm, West, to his car, which is parked at the Health Center. He said that as a result he uses his car less often. Chu added that although the walk is long, but, he does not think it is unbearable. For Chu, the online registration system worked well, as he was on campus during the summer doing research, but he said that he could also understand why some people would think that it was not fair. He said that it is probably harder for someone without Internet access to get to it than Security says it is.