It’s 4:30 p.m. on a Monday and as I backed out of my parking space in the Beck lot I was caught by surprise when a car came around the corner and almost hit me. This was unusual for this time of day. The lot is usually empty around this time. I didn’t think much of it as parking is consistently an issue on campus. To my surprise I found that basketball was to blame.
I was working the broadcast for the basketball game that night and wanted to park closer to McCann Arena. As I pulled up to the McCann lot, I was met by a security guard who told me I couldn’t park there because of the basketball game. This left me frustrated and I found I was not alone. Other students share similar frustrations but John Blaisdell doesn’t seem to think the parking becomes an exacerbated problem during basketball season at all.
Who is John Blaisdell one may ask? Blaisdell is the Director of Safety and Security at Marist College which makes him and his staff responsible for, according to their mission statement on the college website, “campus security, crime prevention, fire safety, workplace safety, event planning and providing for an overall atmosphere of a safe community.”
One may also ask what in the previous statement has anything to do with parking, however, Blaisdell and his department are also listed as the contact under the Parking Policies and Forms page which says “The Office of Safety and Security is responsible for vehicle registration and the enforcement of parking.”
Basketball games don’t always affect parking on campus. I talked to Blaisdell about the adjustments that are made during home games.
“So, the basketball games are at all different days of the week and times of the day. So, what we have to do is look at each game on an individual basis to determine, ya know, how we can balance student needs with people coming to the basketball games,” Blaisdell said. “So, most of the time there isn’t any impact, because a 7 o’clock game on a Saturday night is not a big deal, ya know, but when you all of a sudden end up with a 5 o’clock game on a Wednesday night that is, ya know, you’ve gotta try to manage it and that’s where the balancing comes in.”
The men’s and women’s teams each had 14 home games throughout the season. Out of those 28 total home games only 9 were on a weeknight when classes were in session. So, technically students will only be affected during class times for 9 games. While this doesn’t seem like a lot many students have felt the effects.
“It has made me unable to go to the gym because I can’t park in McCann or Donnely and the only option is to go too Mid-Rise which is so far away, so I end up just going to the Marketplace which is like a much smaller gym,” said student Joseph Lupetin.
Others who don’t use McCann as their designated lot or who are on campus early enough to avoid the issues have heard about others struggles.
Student Angelica Padilla said, “usually the basketball games do not affect my experiences with parking because I get on to campus earlier in the day. However, I have witnessed the McCann parking lot being closed later in the day and affecting students.”
The following person runs the @marist_cantpark Instagram account and therefore asked to remain anonymous.
They stated, “one of my classmates was saying you’re not allowed to be in the area, you can’t drive through, you can’t go pick someone up from the gym, you can’t really go anywhere near McCann and in general I think during any part of the day across any part of the campus there is no parking. Marist security and Marist in general gives out too many parking passes.”
Another student is an employee on campus and also wished to remain anonymous for that reason.
“It’s affected me really poorly because there was no email sent out this week and I wasn’t allowed to park in one of my designated lots which was McCann. I was told to park in either admissions or Riverview or anywhere really I could find a spot that their relocating so I went to the Lower New lot, that was full, Riverview was full, admissions was full, Donnely was full, North End was full and the top lot where the ROTC goes was full too, to like the point where people made like parallel parking lines that isn’t even supposed to be there. It was so full that you couldn’t even make another spot if you wanted too.” .
They continued saying, “so I was like okay where can I park and they said, like when I saw a security guard, they were like oh well you can park at Allied Health and I don’t want to have to park all the way over by Steel Plant or Allied Health when my class is Hancock and I could have parked at McCann where I am allowed to be parked in. That’s not fair, especially cause there were spots and I was staring at empty spots like why can I not go in my parking lot.”
After talking to Blaisdell, the students and my own experiences confused me as he states that only a few spots are technically reserved for games.
“So right now we’re reserving, there’s 20 spots, so there’s 10 on each side where the old circle used to be, and then we take that whole line where the handicap is that’s adjacent to the baseball field and we just extend it about another 10 spots, something like that, so what we try to do is fill up the handicap,” Blaisdell said. “We get visitor lists everywhere from the athletics department who needs to bring in ESPN information, the announcers, the referees, all of that, we get a short list usually from the President’s office, maybe the visiting VP or maybe the visiting President wants to come to the game and then we get a short list form perhaps development who are bringing in people who they want to entertain at the ball game. And then what we don’t fill we backfill with handicap folks.”
I also found it interesting that they start the blockage of the McCann and Donnely lots hours prior to the game.
“The officers come in two hours before game time, ok, and so really that’s when we start the deployment of personnel for basketball games,” Blaisdell said. “However, ya know there are those games that push up closer to 5 o’clock and so we may have to do some things for an hour or so before that so sometimes it’s as long as 3 hours before but that’s about it.”
Personally, I have experienced being denied entrance to the parking lot 3 hours before game time when I was there to work the game, it is also my assigned lot. Lupetin described a similar experience.
“I just wanted to go to the new gym cause I’m a senior and I don’t have much time to use it,” Lupetin said. “I told the security guard I was just going to work out for an hour and would be out an hour before the game even started but they told me I couldn’t park there.”
I asked Blaisdell how students should know when they cannot use the McCann lot.
“When the officers at the entrance saying sorry, ya know, cause all we’re trying to do is, we’re not trying to empty McCann/Sheahan lot, and Donnely kind of empties itself at 5 o’clock cause its mostly staff anyway what we’re trying to do is just secure a reasonable number of spaces primarily for some mobility impaired people,” Blaisdell said. “Ya know, that’s really the emphasis of what we’re trying to do and depending on if it’s a men’s or women’s game the numbers are completely different right now so ya know we take that into account but really it is trying to get some of our mobility impaired folks as close as we can so that they can at least get into the game.”
But if they are only holding a select number of spots and not trying to empty the lot why have students been denied any entrance to the lot hours before the game? What is actually happening and Blaisdell’s description of what he thinks is happening seem to be conflicting. The good thing is that if you do happen to be parked in McCann from earlier in the day you shouldn’t be fined or ticketed.
“Nope, if they belong there, we leave them there, if they don’t belong there we don’t go through and ticket everybody, what we’re trying to focus on is the game quite frankly,” Blaisdell said.
Many students think that giving up parking for the games is unfair to them. They all were asked if they think it’s fair for them to give up parking for the non-Marist people attending games.
Lupetin said, “no, cause I think like as a student that I go here that I should definitely be able to park anywhere.”
“I think it’s definitely unfair, I think there needs to be more parking available to students and I think in general when there is a game of some sort completely shutting out an entire section of students, that sometimes rely on getting over there and parking, especially commuters, cause commuters can use the gym too, I feel like it’s unfair to not let anyone park there,” said the account owner of @marist_cantpark. “For commuters they don’t want to keep a schedule in their car to know they have to leave early, cause they have a longer walk, and they can’t park in McCann today. It definitely causes a little bit of stress.”
Padilla said, “I do not think the parking situation is fair for students because they are the ones that suffer the most form a lack of available parking spaces. As Marist expands its campus, parking needs to take more priority because it is clear that the student population is growing.”
“I think that’s not fair; I think that if they are coming from wherever they should be parking in Allied Health. I understand they are guests and everything and they are going for the basketball game but we’re students, we pay thousands of dollars, like tens of thousands of dollars to be here, like I’m trying to go to class, like I don’t want to be late for class because I’m spending literally half an hour for parking,” said the student employee. “I was 15 minutes late for class because I had to look for parking because nobody got an email about the basketball game on Monday.”
While it seems that the students are definitely convinced that the parking adjustments made during basketball games are an issue, Blaisdell feels as if it’s not a big deal.
“No I don’t think it’s problematic, I think, ya know, anytime we put more people on this campus and particularly on this side of the road in McCann and Donnely, ya know, it’s a challenge but, ya know, at 7 o’clock at night it’s not a huge challenge and most people after a game or two kind of get in the routine and they know what’s going on.”
When asked how the situation could be fixed students had a variety of opinions.
“They could just allow students to park in McCann like normal because I don’t know if the basketball games are bringing in like that many people,” said Lupetin.
“I literally don’t even know at this point because parking is just such an issue. I mean I guess make more parking spots, I really don’t know, I don’t know how they would even go about it because parking is just such an issue and like I find it very hard to believe there’s this many students that have over 50 credits and they each have their own car,” the student employee stated. “I don’t know if that needs to be raised or if that should just be a senior privilege, I just really don’t know.
Padilla said, “I recommend that Marist security should allow commuters access to the teachers lots when they know there will be a basketball game.”
When it comes to parking during Marist basketball games there seems to be conflicting views on both sides. Luckily for the unhappy students basketball season is almost over and then parking will go back to its slightly less dismal state.