Like half the student body, I’m a commuter. I get up earlier than I should to sit in rush hour traffic, inching forward towards campus at a mile a minute while I nervously eye the clock on my Jetta’s dashboard. Once I make it past the inevitable, time-sucking hell that is the right turn onto Rosedale, I begin the hazardous task that every commuter knows quite well. Last Thursday, it took me 35 minutes to find a parking space.
I accept this difficulty as part of living off campus. In exchange, I don’t have to deal with midnight fire drills in pouring rain, eat the sludge that Aramark pretends is food or listen to next door neighbors vomit up last night’s activities in the early hours of the morning. My neighbors are an elderly couple old enough to remember the Great Depression. Generally, they’re pretty quiet with their heavy drinking.
What I do not accept is the recent closure of L Lot next to Sykes Student Union for the continued expansion of the geothermal energy renovations this past week. The space where my car once rested now contains a backhoe, which hasn’t moved much from what I can tell. Why, then, did the University feel the need to close the parking lot in the last two weeks of classes, when every student is pretty much obligated to attend classes in a last-ditch effort to boost their GPA and turn in finals? Little work has been started on the project, anyway, and I doubt that a week and a half would have destroyed a construction schedule. Once again, officials have overlooked the practical needs of a huge but mostly silent part of the campus population.
With parking scarce to begin with, this new regulation has created a new mentality among commuters that was less prevalent in previous weeks. Commuter sees space, sees other commuter rushing for space, and floors the gas pedal to speed into disputed space. Angry looks and screams ensue but, really, it’s an understood part of commuter life. We’re not here to be polite and make friends. We’d sell our first born for a spot within ten feet of the door.
So, this week, I’ll once again find myself leaving my house an hour before I would normally have to, hoping that I won’t have to brave the creepiness of R Lot on South Campus and take the shuttle up again. I’ll gather every quarter I can find with the hopes that I’ll get lucky, and that my parallel parking skills won’t fail me. And to the girl I beat for my parking space behind Swope this morning, I am only half sorry. It’s a commuter-eat-commuter world out there, and I’m sure you’d do the same.
Lisa DellaPorta is a student at West Chester University majoring in English Education. She can be reached at LD631585@wcupa.edu.