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."