October 2000 aaUPBEAT
Faculty Views on Campus Parking
Faculty members have long voiced their concerns about
campus parking to the AAUP. In order to get a fuller and more
systematic understanding of faculty concerns, a survey of full-time
University of Delaware faculty was conducted during the spring semester
of 2000. The survey questionnaire was prepared by Dr. Gerry Turkel,
Professor of Sociology at the University of Delaware and President of
the University of Delaware AAUP Chapter. In order to maximize the
number of respondents, the survey questionnaire was limited to eleven
fixed answer items. There was also a space on the questionnaire in
which respondents could provide additional comments. The questionnaires
were produced and mailed to full-time faculty by the AAUP office.
Faculty were asked to mail questionnaires back to the AAUP office when
completed. The questionnaires were completely anonymous. The returned
questionnaires were compiled and analyzed over the summer with the
assistance of Mr. Dan O'Connell, a graduate student in the Department
of Sociology and Criminal Justice.
The survey indicates that a solid majority of
respondents view parking as a serious problem that disrupts classroom
work and campus activities. They favor solutions that provide
designated parking for faculty and staff, limit use of cars and provide
alternative solutions to private automobile use. Building more parking
facilities is not a favored solution to the parking problem.
The following report was authored by Dr. Gerry Turkel.
About 45% (418) of full-time faculty responded to the
questionnaire. In addition, 119 respondents took the time to write
comments. Many of these comments were quite extensive. About 54% (158)
of the full-time women faculty and 39% (255) of the full-time
About 90% of the respondents indicated they drove to
campus three or four times a week, and 74% said they drove to campus
four or more times a week. About 50% indicated that they moved their
vehicles from one campus parking place to another on the same day.
About 96% full-time faculty respondents have gold or
assigned parking stickers. 94% of the respondents indicated they spent
14 minutes or less looking for parking on campus. 67% indicated they
spent less than five minutes looking for parking. About 7% (22)
reported they spent more than fifteen minutes looking for parking on
About 89% indicated they felt very safe or safe
returning to their vehicle in the evening. There were, however,
statistically significant differences between female and male
respondents to this question. 23% of female respondents compared to 7%
of male respondents felt unsafe. In effect, almost one out of four
females felt unsafe returning to their vehicles in the evening.
About 53% of the respondents reported parking is a
serious problem. About 24% indicated either parking was either not very
serious or not at all serious. About 22% did not indicate an opinion on
Almost 62% of the respondents indicated that parking
problems disrupt classroom work and other activities. Approximately 38%
of the respondents reported that parking problems disrupt campus work
and activities either very little or not at all. 13% indicated there
was no disruption that resulted from parking problems.
When asked to select what they thought would be the best
way to alleviate parking problems on campus, 33% of the respondents
chose "provide assigned parking for UD employees," and 15% chose
alternatives to driving their own automobiles such as "improve public
transportation," "increase bicycle use," and "encouraging carpooling."
When asked to select the second best way to alleviate parking problems
on campus, 29% of respondents favored limited student driving, 27%
favored alternatives to personal automobile use, 22% chose to "provide
assigned parking for UD employees," and 21% favored building more
Almost half of the faculty responded to the parking
survey and a large number took the time to write comments, many of
which were quite extensive. This high response rate and high rate of
comments suggests parking is a deep concern for faculty. When we
consider respondents' comments in connection with the pattern of
responses to the fixed items on the questionnaire, we can arrive at a
fuller understanding of faculty concerns and the directions they favor
to resolve parking problems.
Respondents said they do a lot of driving on campus. 90%
of the respondents drive to campus three or more times a week and often
move their vehicles during the course of the day. Yet a large majority
do not appear to spend a great deal of time trying to park. 67%
indicated they spent less than five minutes looking for parking and 94%
indicated they spent 14 minutes or less looking for a place to park on
campus. While this suggests that parking would not seem to be a serious
issue for individual respondents, about 53% of responds indicated that
they consider parking to be a serious problem and almost two-thirds
think that parking problems are disruptive to classroom work and other
activities. Consideration of respondents' written comments enables us
to understand why a solid majority considers parking to be a serious
and disruptive issue despite the fact that more than two-thirds of them
indicated that they spent less than five minutes looking for parking
Respondents view parking as a serious problem because
they shape their behavior to accommodate the realities of parking their
cars. A number of respondents commented that they drive into the
University earlier than they need to in order to secure parking places.
As one respondent wrote, "I arrive early enough to get a space... If I
had to leave and come back later, it would be very disruptive." Another
wrote, "When you come to campus later (after 11 a.m.), it is very
complicated to find parking." Still another wrote, "I rarely attend
campus events during the day because it is virtually impossible to find
a parking place in a reasonable amount of time."
In addition, several respondents state that parking is
an arduous and draining task. One wrote, "Even though it takes only
five minutes, I have to fight for a space." Another wrote, "I've almost
missed classes in the winter term looking for parking." Another states,
"It wears me out, parking away from my classes, having to drive around
seeking a parking space." Another writes, "The parking situation is out
of control. I frequently spend 15-20 minutes of my class preparation
time circling for a space. I arrive at my office not bright and
cheerful, but in one foul mood. It's the waste of professional time
that angers me."
In addition to the personal problems associated with
parking, respondents articulate the ways in which they view parking and
traffic congestion as creating conditions which undermine their ability
to conduct their classes. According to one respondent, "Students are
late for class because they have to spend time searching for parking
spaces. The streets are clogged with cars and trucks. The campus is
noisy. It takes a long time to cross from one side of the street to the
other." Another writes that "students in Townsend Hall or the Athletic
Complex have to arrive 10-15 minutes late for class or leave class 5
minutes before it ends."
In addition to the disruption to classes related to
parking, respondents took the opportunity to focus on the related
problem of traffic and the danger it poses. One respondent wrote,
"Traffic is a bigger concern than parking. The real issue for me is
traffic. I feel the University is absolutely irresponsible in its
failure to take leadership in reducing automobile traffic and
associated problems." Another wrote, "The congestion of people and cars
at the intersection of South College and Main St. is absurd... And it
is dangerous." Another stated, "In my 9+ years at UD, several students
have been hit by vehicles and 3 have been killed... The campus is busy
with multiple, busy intersections, railways, etc., all converging in
one small area. It may be only a matter of time until the next tragedy."
Respondents voice resentment and annoyance with the fact
that they often have to compete with students for parking. A respondent
asks, "Why do faculty have to compete with students for parking space?"
One respondent states, "I resent having to compete with students for a
parking space, when those students are driving from dormitories to
classrooms." Another respondent claims that "students park illegally
with impunity." Another writes that "I have seen a student leaving the
apartment complex on South Haines and driving to a parking lot across
Respondents also do not like having to pay for parking.
A typical statement is "It's not fair that faculty have to pay for
parking." Another states that "to force faculty to pay over $200 per
year just to park is sheer highway robbery." One respondent states that
"the price of reserved parking is outrageous - but because I often have
an afternoon class, I'm compelled to pay the price."
The comments are consistent with the selection of
solutions to the parking problem by respondents. Faculty would like to
see solutions that provide parking for faculty and staff, limit student
driving and parking on central campus, and provide relief both from the
stress of parking and the detrimental effects on campus life that
result from Newark's massive amounts of traffic.
Respondents believe that the two most preferable ways to
solve parking problems are to provide assigned parking for UD employees
and to limit student campus driving. Respondents state that "the number
of students allowed to park on central campus is ridiculous" and that
"I don't know many campuses where students have the same parking
privileges as faculty and staff."
The third preferred option is to develop alternatives to
individuals driving cars. One respondent suggests providing "shuttle
buses that go past residential neighborhoods to pick up faculty, staff
and students." Another respondent remarks, "Resident students should
park at the field house or the Bob Carpenter Center or another remote
lot rather than clog the campus with cars." In this vein, there is
support for bicycling, carpooling and public transportation. The least
favored solution is the building of additional parking facilities. On
this matter, respondents state a range of opinions including that
increased parking "will increase the use of vehicles and make the
problem worse," "when communities build superhighways and garages,
traffic volume increases," and "if you build more parking facilities,
they will come."
Respondents to this brief survey report said they drive
a lot to campus, with 23% driving less than two miles. Although the
overwhelming majority spend less than five minutes looking for parking,
they also see parking as a serious problem that disrupts their
classroom activity and campus life. Parking is a jarring experience
that shapes and limits respondents' campus activities and is embedded
in the larger issue of dense traffic conditions around campus that
create a noisy, congested environment. Faculty respondents are
concerned about parking and traffic as conditions that negatively
affect their ability to conduct classes and to participate in campus
In this light, respondents favor solutions to parking
problems that would also limit traffic and congestion while enhancing
classroom experience. Providing faculty and staff with designated
parking spaces, limiting student driving and parking on campus, and
developing alternatives to private automobile use are most favored.
Constructing more parking facilities is the least favored.