Editorial—Housing and parking experiencing growing pains

North Wind Staff

As we settle into the semester, a few changes have become noticeable on campus. Perhaps foremost is the full dorms and parking lots.

While we’re pleased for the university that more parking passes and housing contracts were purchased this year than last, thus bringing in greater revenue, the sudden growth from the emptiness of COVID-19 also causes some discomfort.

For residents and commuters alike, finding parking this semester has been a hassle. From move-in week forward, lots near buildings have been stuffed full. Resident parking near the Woods and Quad II rarely opens up.

During COVID-19, more spaces than usual were available in preferred parking lots (such as lots 10, 16, 46, 24). Now, current numbers of parking passes for resident and commuter parking are comparable to numbers in 2019, before COVID-19. There are currently 1,450 resident permits purchased and 1,535 parking spaces in resident lots, according to data provided by NMU Chief of Police Michael Bath.

Many students are getting used to having to use lots that are further from residence buildings, such as lots 20, 21 and 22. Bath has noted that in recent night checks, lot 21 tends to be more full than in 2019, while the resident spaces in public safety tend to be less full than in 2019. However, there are available spaces in each lot. Students getting back to campus after dark who find themselves in these lots are encouraged to make use of the Safe Walk program which is available for students who would like a staff member of the Police Department to walk with them to their destination on campus. The number to call for this program is 227-2151.

Alongside residents, commuters have been frustrated with parking in recent weeks. Ideal parking is never available in peak hours. Rumors circulated on campus that NMU had oversold commuter parking passes. However, this year’s permit numbers have not previously been released, rendering these rumors unfounded. Bath notes that although the most popular lots 17 and 29 are usually full during busy hours, commuter spots can consistently be found in lots 6 and 7. Parking Services is currently working on a walking map of parking which will be distributed through email and made available around campus.

Perhaps to the dismay of some, due to cost and space restrictions, NMU is not planning to build a parking ramp for the campus, according to Bath. In the past, when additional parking spots were needed for residents, the Services Building resident parking was simply expanded.

But post-COVID-19 growing pains don’t just extend to parking. As for housing, many residence halls are fully stocked, and while this does offer more opportunities for connecting with our peers while living on campus, it also means we have fewer options to choose housing that fits our needs and price ranges. Additionally, it means there are fewer options for changes if hostile roommate situations should necessitate it.

Not to mention, the housing crisis in greater Marquette has caused many students to resort to living on campus when they may not have wished to. Both the insane prices and the difficulty of finding available apartments in greater Marquette contribute to this situation. The university has accommodated the greater need for on-campus apartments, utilizing Spalding Hall for this purpose. Yet this is a temporary fix, and we worry what will happen should the housing crisis continue, or even worsen.

In light of this greater need for housing, we wish NMU did not have such an unfortunate history of tearing down buildings that could otherwise have been renovated or repurposed. Currently, West Hall and Lee Hall stand empty and unused, planned to be torn down when perhaps they could still serve a purpose.

Of course, it is easy to see the flaws in tearing down these buildings in hindsight. We simply wonder if more planning and consideration could have taken place to lessen the negative impacts of this sudden crisis for which students are ultimately paying the price. If more planning and consideration had gone into NMU’s housing situation, if housing was kept open and up-to-date rather than simply rendered obsolete and abandoned, perhaps we would be in a different situation this year.