As I began to take my fourth spin around campus and through the parking deck in early September of this semester, I searched for someone leaving campus at noon who would be gracious enough to donate his parking spot to the cause of my education.
I needed to find someone who wouldn’t dawdle in vacating the space, as I was already 15 minutes late to a meeting for which I had arrived 20 minutes early.
It was in that moment that I began to wonder why this commuter school I attend has begun to reject its commuter population for the sake of improving campus image in the long run.
As a commuter, and a typically prompt one at that, I have been known to spend upward of 30 minutes to pinpoint a parking space if I arrive after 9:00 a.m. this fall. As a commuter student who has paid for an expensive parking pass to ensure that I will have a place to keep my car while I attend class, conduct meetings and hang out with my residential friends, I am immensely frustrated by this situation.
Seton Hall has always identified itself as a commuter school. I have never felt out of place as a commuter here. It has never held me back until this year, when I can no longer find parking to accommodate my need to keep my car somewhere so I can receive my education.
I fully recognize that this parking situation is not permanent. It’s for the sake of creating the Welcome Center, to be completed in January 2018. But what the University might not have considered is that I am a student now. I need parking today. The promise of a better Spring 2018 semester does nothing for me when I graduate in December 2017.
I do recognize that the University is willing to accept returned parking permits, but that solution does not work for me when I travel 40 minutes each way to attend my classes. Living on campus does not make sense for me financially.
My parking is being sacrificed in the name of change. My promptness is at the mercy of construction that I will never get to reap the benefits of. It stings me that Seton Hall is choosing to shift its identity from a commuter campus when that is one of the main reasons why I chose to attend this school.
And what I find ironic – laughable, even – is that Seton Hall has stopped trying to make commuters feel welcome, all while a Welcome Center is built for potential students. I no longer feel that commuters are as welcome as they were when I began my time here in fall 2014.
What I have learned from my daily struggle is that Seton Hall is very focused on the future, which is great and often how it should be. But it becomes a problem when Seton Hall forgets students who need help now.
Students who have no choice but to commute from home are being forgotten. There has got to be a solution that makes itself known before January 2018.
Brianna Bernath is a journalism/PR and philosophy double major from Old Bridge, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.