NOT EVEN CLOSE

Julie Lybarger/The Chart Vehicles on the grass in Lot 39 sport warning tickets during the first week of classes. Despite student complaints, University officials say Southern has plenty of parking spaces.

Julie Lybarger/The Chart Vehicles on the grass in Lot 39 sport warning tickets during the first week of classes. Despite student complaints, University officials say Southern has plenty of parking spaces.

Nathan Carter

Early in the morning, Missouri Southern students scramble for the best parking space they can find before class.There is sometimes chaos as the few stragglers running late race around the parking lot without success. All of the legal spaces have been taken and the few clumps of grass have already been filled. With limited options and the clock winding down, they race for Lot 18 and walk to class, showing up 10 minutes late.This is the scene many students are faced with on a daily basis, but while students call it a parking problem, the administration sees it as point of view problem.”The thing is, we don’t really have a parking problem,” said Ken Kennedy, director of DPS. “If that’s what students are saying, we don’t. We have ample lots, it’s just not right up close to the building they would like to go to.”According to Kennedy, there are several lots on campus that are rarely half full. These include Lot 43, located south of Reynolds Hall, and Lot 18, located south of Hughes Stadium, which Kennedy says DPS does not usually ticket because it encourages students to park there.Occasionally, students who have a tendency to show up on time will be late, as was the case with Donna Newhouse, senior theatre major, last Monday.”I got here and there was no [explicative] parking,” she said. She parked in Lot 18 and walked to class. “My backpack is about 30 pounds and I had to walk all the way up that little thing in heels,” Newhouse said. “Its just ridiculous. They have to do something about this.”Kennedy said part of the problem is that most of the students at the University have not experienced the atmosphere of a large university.”They aren’t from a major university like Arkansas or something where they have to park and get shuttled in from a mile away,” he said. “They’re used to living around here where you can go to a business, pull right up in front of the business, get out and walk in. “That seems to be the mindset with most of the students who haven’t gone away to college, and what they don’t realize is that we have an ideal situation,” he added. “They just feel inconvenienced when they have to walk.”One of the major complaints students make is the addition of the Health Sciences Building that destroyed Lot 14 between the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center and Taylor Auditorium. Megan Heisler, senior graphic arts major, used to park in Lot 14 because it was close to the building where she spent most of her time. The new building has caused her some distress.”They’ve been working on that building over by the theatre department for a long time now,” Heisler said “Shouldn’t they be done by now? I’ve had to park in ‘the well’ (Lot 18) and they need to make more spaces. I just hate parking all the way down there.”She said it is also inconvenient for friends, families and community members who come to watch theatre programs. Kennedy said when the Health Sciences Building is finished; new parking space will be added. Other administrators agree with Kennedy’s views on the parking situation, despite student’s complaints.”There’s almost 3,800 parking spots on campus,” said Bob Harrington, director of the physical plant. “We have a total of about 5,000 students, of which 600 live on campus and 500 are employees. “They never are all here at the same time. Look at Lot 18 for example. You never see it full during the school day.”The issue is not that there’s [not] enough parking, the issue is that the parking is not in front of the building you want to go to.”Several students argue that there needs to be more parking next to the buildings.”I was used to the summer parking,” said Cher LePage, junior nursing major. “But when I pulled in this fall, it was like, ‘Good grief.’ People are parked on the grass and they are everywhere. “There are a few spots left in the ‘Back 40’ behind Reynolds [Hall], but when you have a class that’s far away its pretty bad.”Harrington said that student parking “right up close” to a building is rare at a university.”It’s not unusual that there’s not student parking in close,” he said. “Just look at Missouri State University in Springfield or any of those schools. Student parking up close just isn’t a reality.”