And now for the real university issue: car parking

In his book The Uses of the University the former Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, Clark Kerr, suggested that a university President has three key tasks which his or her main stakeholders will expect to see achieved: “sex for the students, athletics for the alumni, and parking for the faculty.” Only the last of these, he suggested, presented a problem.

In fact, another bon mot also attributed to him is that a university is “a series of individual faculty entrepreneurs held together by a common grievance over car parking”. 

All of this is wholly true. In my time in DCU, some of the most intractable problems have concerned car parking. We have a small campus in a residential area, and so we have had to make whatever use we can of parking space, which has involved two surface car parks and one multi-story car park. It has been made clear to us that the local authority, Dublin City Council, will not give permission for the construction of any more parking spaces, as it is pursuing a policy of persuading people to use public transport. In any case, times being what they are, I am not sure we could raise the money for any further construction of car parks.

Our problems have been exacerbated by the fact that many students now own cars and drive them to their classes, so that faculty and staff are no longer able to be sure that they will have a parking space. And this is causing a whole lot of tension. In fact, I have sympathy for both staff and students, as our university is not easily accessible by public transport unless you are coming from a small number of specific areas.

I do not know how this problem will be resolved, except that it won’t be soon. I suspect that at some point we will need to add to the available parking spaces, or else we shall need to organise transport to locations where people live or where they could park their cars. Maybe universities elsewhere have managed to deal with the issue in imaginative ways – I would love to hear about them.

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3 Comments on “And now for the real university issue: car parking”

  1. Wendymr Says:

    Oh, car parking… Back when I was union president, we used to joke that to get a high turnout at a union meeting all we had to do was put parking on the agenda. Forget pay negotiations or university restructuring; the only item guaranteed to get members’ ire up – short of redundancies – was car parking.

    Does DCU charge for parking? Is there any way that incentives could be offered for car-sharing?

    The other thing I remember my university doing was negotiating with the local bus company (companies after deregulation) about bus stops through campus, exploring additional routes and offering discount bus passes for staff and students through the university.

  2. Ultan Says:

    Simple: Reintroduce academic fees so that the money spent on cars by parents is spent on education.

    This letter says it all:

  3. […] post on University Blog: As I pointed out in a post last year, it has been suggested that the three things a university President has to secure are […]

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