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The Daily Tar Heel

Officials React To Decision About Parking

Faculty Council Chairwoman Sue Estroff applauded the decision to eliminate campus parking for students in residence halls.

Provost Robert Shelton and Nancy Suttenfield, vice chancellor for finance and administration, announced their decision at last Thursday's Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee meeting to eliminate on-campus parking for students in residence halls, which they have said is based on a pressing need for faculty and staff members to have access to on-campus parking.

Faculty Council Chairwoman Sue Estroff said the decision, though controversial, was an inevitable one because of faculty and staff's unique needs and the difficulties they have faced for many years.

"Nobody wanted to make this choice," she said. "The real culprit is 20 years of lack of planning and procrastination. This shouldn't surprise anyone -- we knew it was coming."

Estroff said because faculty and staff do not have access to reliable public transportation, commuting to and from work can be a daunting task. "If you think about UNC as a workplace, it's like extreme sports -- can you even get there?" she said. "I think many faculty would be happy not to drive to work if there were reliable public transportation, but there isn't."

Estroff said faculty members with special needs, such as research and night classes, also have reported problems finding parking spaces. "I've gotten e-mails from teachers in the evening college who can't find spots at night because of student parking," she said.

Estroff said some faculty wait years to receive permits in certain lots. "I hear people say things like, `My students have spaces, and I don't,'" she said. "And others maintain that UNC accepts students for an education, not parking spaces."

Of the 14,558 parking spaces currently on campus, 3,553 are held by students, with 480 of those designated for on-campus residents. Faculty and staff have 10,598 of the remaining spots.

But as construction consumes nearly half the available parking in the near future, officials hope to dedicate all remaining spots to faculty and staff.

Cheryl Stout, assistant director of parking services, said the proportionate allocation of parking permits among students and faculty has remained relatively constant in the past. "The numbers have remained static over the years, with the exception of losses to construction and other campus developments," she said. "Roughly 15 percent of the student population obtains permits."

Departments receive permits based on the number of employees and total years of state service. Allocation within the department is then at the discretion of individual department heads.

"Each department comes up with its own distribution system for their permits," Estroff said. "For example, secretarial staff often gets the closest spots because they may have to come and go in the dark."

Dorothy Ariail, a student member of TPAC, said that when the issue came to the committee, the decision to eliminate spaces already had been made by Shelton and Suttenfield.

"The only decision we have now is how to implement the decision, whether it be over one year or on a sliding scale basis," Ariail said. "We need to look out for commuters and those who need hardship spaces."

Estroff said she expects reactions to the decision to be divided. "Parking is a perennial complaint for everyone. But we have to make the transition to (park-and-ride lots), albeit a painful one," she said. "Faculty and staff need to have spaces -- they work at UNC. It's how they make a living."

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