American Association of University Professors
University of Delaware Chapter

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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.

Survey Analysis: Overview of Survey Results

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 male-faculty responded.

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 campus.

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 this issue.

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 parking facilities.

Views on the Parking Problem

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 spaces.

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 the street!"

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."

Views on Solving the Parking Program

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 life.

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.