ASCLUG Holds Parking Rally, Wants ‘Student Voice to Be Heard’

The Associated Students of California Lutheran University Government hosted what they titled a “parking rally” in Kingsmen Park. Students filled out a survey in return for free food, with the intent to receive student feedback on campus parking and gain the attention of the Board of Regents.

“[The Board of Regents] don’t seem to think that it’s an issue. So obviously, we wanted to think of some way that would get students more involved, and have the student voice be more heard, rather than just word-of-mouth,”ASCLU Senate Director Alexis Ghattas said.

Students began to line up at an ASCLUG canopy around 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 22 across from Ullman 100/101, where the Board of Regents was having its monthly meeting. ASCLUG representatives asked students to fill out a survey about parking on campus. In return, students were given the choice between free Jersey Mike’s sandwiches or a slice of Domino’s pizza.

Board of Regents members, who decide where to allocate university funds, began to exit the meeting around 12:20 p.m. Many walked past the ASCLUG canopy, although a few seemed to take notice.

ASCLU President Nick Steinwender, who sits on the Board of Regents, said he was able to speak to several regents about the parking problem on the day of the rally. He said they seemed receptive, but that “in all honesty” there has not been progress in addressing the issue.

“Every time you kind of bring it up, it doesn’t seem to be a huge issue…In my opinion, if we didn’t have a parking issue on campus, the administrators wouldn’t have special parking permits…that allow them to park anywhere on campus,” Steinwender said.

Associate Vice President of Planning and Services Ryan Van Ommeren said in an email interview that there are a total of 2,312 parking spots on campus, and that all spots have never been full on a regular academic day.

Overall, there are sufficient parking spaces on campus, but the spaces may not be in an area in which staff, faculty and students want to park…I do believe, however, that we have a particular issue here on campus where the temptation to search for an open space in the street parking near the academic core results in time-consuming and frustrating processes,” Van Ommeren said.

Director of Campus Safety David Hilke said in an email interview that 3,648 parking permits were issued for the 2018/2019 academic year. However, he said commuter students, faculty and staff may have up to four vehicles registered.

This past fall, 12 spots were lost on south campus due to ongoing construction of the Swenson Science Center, although 150 overflow spots were added on north campus, Hilke said.

Van Ommeren said that it costs approximately $10,000 per space to add parking, and every 10 spots require approval from the City of Thousand Oaks.

Junior Tinathy Tran attended the rally and said that as a commuter, she often has to spend 20-30 minutes looking for a parking spot.

“I thought it’d be really cool to help support and take the survey, so that they can have more info about the parking situation here,” Tran said.

Tran said the survey asked questions such as how long it takes to find a spot, whether she had ever considered skipping class because of parking problems and how stressful it is to find a parking spot.

The rally was planned by the ASCLUG Executive Cabinet in collaboration with Senate. Ghattas said Steinwender originally proposed the idea “about two weeks ago,” and that senators Thomas Singelyn and George Khoury were heavily involved in planning. The approximately $700 budget came out of Executive Cabinet funds, Steinwender said.

While there was an initial rush of students lined up to take the survey, by noon few remained.

“I think [the rally] could have been more successful…we originally wanted to make it a lot larger, do a whole lot of marketing for it, just because of the time restraints it didn’t really happen,” Steinwender said.

Steinwender said he does not think the rally will be the last event student government hosts to raise attention about parking.

Ghattas said she thinks students were happy to see parking acknowledged as an issue and to see student government advocating for them.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single person say that parking is not an issue…But I think everyone has just gotten so complacent knowing that it’s not going to change, so it’s a little disheartening,” Ghattas said.

Ellie Long
Features Editor