By Kayla Tucker – Managing Editor
Administrators answered questions about parking at the monthly Student Alliance Town Hall Meeting held Thursday.
The discussion was led by Grand Rapids Community College Director of Operational Planning Vicki Janowiak, and Lisa Freiburger, Vice President for Finance and Administration, who answered student questions. The questions came out of a poll directed by Kevin Curiel-Vasquez, Student Alliance External Affairs Director.
Lt. Jeffrey Hertel of the Grand Rapids Community College Police Department was also in attendance to help answer student questions.
Many students brought up the option of parking passes, bus passes, and a potential shuttle system to bus students in from locations across West Michigan.
Freiburger said that administration has discussed and knows the requests by students of a year-long parking pass. The issues that arise are equalizing parking rates between full-time and part-time students and the fact that the school can’t always guarantee when the ramps are full or if the space can always be accounted for.
Administrators have also started the conversation of a shuttle system that would transport students from all over West Michigan to the downtown campus.
“It is certainly something we can think about,” Freiburger said.
At a recent board meeting, GRCC President Steven Ender brainstormed the idea of a shuttle system.
Evan Macklin, Coordinator of Student Life and Conduct, said that a year-long bus pass is in discussion with The Rapid.
“It’s the early phases,” Macklin said. “I’m sure it won’t be done for another year at the very minimum if it happens at all.”
Further into the discussion, Janowiak informed students of parking rates, highlighting the benefit of using a RaiderCard. The first half hour is free and each half hour after is $1. Unlimited amount of time costs $3.50 with a RaiderCard.
“No one parks for less than what students pay,” Janowiak said.
Students also raised concern about where exactly the money is moving each time they pay for parking. Freiburger encouraged students to see the budget report on the GRCC website, which includes details last year’s parking expenses, that totaled to $900,000, which includes plowing, dash lot payment, and salaries for those who clean the parking ramps.
Freiburger said next summer, GRCC is going to begin a $1.7 million project to last three years updating the Bostwick ramp alone. The Lyon St. ramp is next on the list.
Hertel assured the students police are routinely circling the ramps, and ticketing cars that park incorrectly.
“If you do want to voice a concern or complaint, please just make a note (of the time and place),” Janowiak said on reporting issues in the parking ramp to campus police.
Ultimately, the school is looking to find more ways to encourage alternate transportation.
“You can never over communicate the issues about parking,” Janowiak said. “It’s been the number one issue since I’ve been here … The roads are only going to accommodate a certain number of vehicles and at some point we’re going to have to adjust to different modes of transportation.”
The students then formed discussion groups and brainstormed parking solutions. They presented their ideas to the whole group and voted a winner with the most realistic plan. The team was led by Madalynne Koeppe, 18, a member of the German club.
Koeppe proposed there be more clarity to students about parking prices and locations through emails and on the GRCC website. She also opted for their to be parking passes offered at different prices for both full-time and part-time students. Following the meeting and discussion, Koeppe was pleased with the information she, and those around her, were able to learn.
“It’s really cool to hear what administration is doing…and then hearing students’ ideas about what their needs are and what administration can do to meet students’ needs,” Koeppe said.
“It makes me feel more connected (to see) there’s someone who has answers but also doesn’t have them all and is looking for the other answers, especially from students.”