By James Ochoa – Student Journalist
I stumbled upon a Rutgers Newark yearbook from 1972 and in it was a picture of the newly constructed Parking Deck 1 on University Avenue that was still lined with cobblestones. It made me wonder how such a structure made students feel over 50 years ago.
I know students back then didn’t have to pay in excess of over $300 a year to park there, but I am sure that they got what was the best parking facilities at that time.
Fifty years later, it will be upgraded. According to an email sent by RUDOTS, Deck 1 will be closed after Spring Break into the next Fall semester for what they call “major renovations”, not limited to fresh paint, LED lighting, surface repair and striping, speed bumps, new signage, an ADA compliant entrance, interior elevator upgrades and new security cameras.
Modernization is a word that people tend to throw around these days, but seeing that yearbook picture makes me think that Rutgers uses it to finally take our facilities out of the 1960’s.
It’s impossible to ignore that most of this campus was built around that period, but as much as it makes it charming, ignoring that fact creates a modern student experience far from normal.
Say what you want about quirks like the ungodly heat in 110 Warren or the tiny Conklin Hall restrooms, but just by parking on Deck 1 over the length of my Rutgers experience, I have experienced elevator failures, paint scratches from other student’s improper parking, suspension damage from potholes, vandalism and countless instances where I had to guarantee an acquaintance’s safety because I unknowingly parked near a light that went out. I have heard stories from students that have graduated and had it worse – one student came back to his car with a broken driver’s side window and a Cobra radar detector stolen from the windshield of his Prius. Once he contacted RUPD, he was told that there was nothing they could do, as the cameras weren’t on. So much for “premium parking”, right?
Premium is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as an adjective meaning “of exceptional quality or amount”. If we were to adhere to the rules of the book that documents the lexicon of this country, Rutgers should provide parking that is exceptional or abundant.
Is the “premium” parking exceptional or abundant? Ask any commuter student who slightly missed the cut for a parking permit, was late due to elevator trouble or had their cars messed up while parked.
Premium should not be the description of the 6-figure luxury and sports cars I often park my Honda Civic next to. For something with a stupid name and more than double the price of the next commuter permit, I do not expect just the opportunity to not park on the street, but a guaranteed parking spot in a garage that has lights that don’t go out, elevators that don’t break, and the piece of mind to go to class without the fear that I’ll walk back to my car being stolen, damaged, vandalized or be followed to it – you know, the bare minimum?
Is that so much to ask for? I get that RUDOTS are going to fix these problems, but where were they when my friend had his radar detector stolen or when my friend with chronic pain had to painfully walk up and down five flights of stairs when the elevator broke down?
It is a nice feeling to see how much the campus has evolved over the years. We can champion diversity, equity and academic prowess, but we cannot celebrate these amazing things if the people in charge cannot fix the bare minimum of what students need to achieve these things in a timely and effective manner.