Just take a moment and look around Jacksonville State’s campus.
There are more sets of temporary fences than at a high school softball championship tournament. There are more equipment trucks than at a John Deere store. There are more tractor trailers than at truck stops in Iowa.
You know what there isn’t a lot of? Places for students to park.
Parking has always been a topic of discussion at the beginning of each semester. At Houston Cole Library, which is also one of the countless buildings on campus still under remodeling as a result of the EF3 tornado that tripped through the Jacksonville community on March 19, students normally have to wait until the second or third week of classes to become fortunate enough to find a parking space within 500 yards of Martin Hall or McGee Science Center.
At Self Hall, if you aren’t a North resident with a green decal, good luck. Even if you do have the correct color decal, the chances of temporary fences, equipment trucks or tractor trailers taking up spots in that lot are higher than the temperature on the Burgess-Snow Field or Jim Bennett Field turfs during the early stages of August.
The solution, as crazy and it sounds, is let students park wherever they need to in order to successfully make it to class on time. Disregard the color system for at least this semester. Maybe even into the spring as most construction will still be ongoing by then. Let cars be parked along Trustee Circle. What about, while there are still workers and equipment trucks around, building another parking lot that students have been begging for?
Commuting students already have to deal with the city of Jacksonville deciding to repave Highway 21. Throw in on-campus residents, and those in apartments surrounding the western portion of campus, and it’ll be a worse traffic jam than traveling through Atlanta or Birmingham at 5 p.m. on a weekday. There has already been clashing between the community and university regarding housing the students, why make it worse by forcing students to find alternate parking locations because of something that is out of their hands? Oh, and most of the student housing buildings are still being repaired despite last Saturday marking the day students were allowed to move back in.
Close your eyes for a minute.
The parking lot in front of Pete Mathews Coliseum? Trailers.
The parking lot beside Mason Hall? Remodeling equipment.
The parking lot across from Wallace Hall? Trailers.
There was a trailer taking up parking spots in a lot behind Sparkman Hall Saturday evening. Same with Stone Center. Merrill Hall. Fitzpatrick Hall.
There is something everywhere.
There will be roughly 8,000 students attending Jacksonville State this semester. Hundreds still don’t have a place to live. Academic and housing buildings are being used despite ongoing construction. There already wasn’t enough parking before the tornado.