By Aparna Verma
At Wednesday’s Graduate Student Council (GSC) meeting, members discussed a survey that collected graduate student responses on parking. This survey comes in light of plans for new graduate housing in Escondido Village (EV), a project in which parking spaces will become limited due to construction.
Rebecca Park Ph.D. ’18 created an independent survey titled “Parking Concerns for Residents in EV” after hearing negative commentary on the parking situation.
“Everyone was complaining and sending these negative emails, so I said, ‘Why not just create a survey?’” she explained.
Using student input, Park created a four-question survey of 371 anonymous respondents. One multiple choice question asked students about their opinion on “the parking situation (regarding the construction in EV).” 84.1 percent of respondents answered that “the process has been unfair and nontransparent, so the residents should receive some sort of compensation.”
“Many students wanted information about the construction and limitation of parking available before they bought parking permits,” Park said. “Some international students are not happy [with construction] because they cannot return their parking permits or cars [and so] must park further away.”
Indeed, a medical student commented, “I don’t want to be walking far in the dark at night [since I] have to be driving/parking at odd hours.”
GSC members expressed gratitude for Park’s findings, and they believe the survey will be helpful for Parking & Transportation Services (P&TS).
“I don’t think parking officials understand the full weight of student concerns, so I really appreciate that this survey and these comments are available,” said GSC member Rosie Nelson Ph.D. ʼ19.
However, Nelson also expressed caution in accepting the survey’s findings as absolute truth.
“From the way the survey is structured, there may be selection bias,” she said. “Only people who are upset might be highly motivated to answer; others might not.”
A survey respondent shared Nelson’s concern.
“I don’t think this survey will do much good as the response choices come across as quite negative and biased against P&TS. Just my honest opinion,” the student argued.
In addition, the survey questioned students what actions they wished the University to take in response to limited parking spaces. Forty-two percent of respondents expressed a desire to choose from the options: “return the permit for full refund,” “keep the permit and get 50 percent refunded, but only park at ES” and “have permission to park at parking spots besides ES (i.e. A, C, P, EA, etc.).”
In last week’s GSC meeting, Director of P&TS Brian Shaw explained that the University is considering providing alternate options of transportation, such as Zipcars, passes for Uber and the Google Shopping Express.
“We are looking at giving Zipcar credits to grads as well as car rental credits,” Shaw said, “and we always encourage people to sell their parking permits.”
The GSC agreed that communication can be improved between residents and the University pertaining to the construction project.
“There needs to be better communication since many residents aren’t aware of the details,” said GSC member Gabriela Badica.
However, the GSC assures that they have been involved in discussions with the University and that they will share the survey findings with P&TS in further discussions.
“Once we have a clear housing project timeline, GSC can set up a meeting and act as a mediator between graduate residents and the university,” Badica explained.
Contact Aparna Verma at averma2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.