By: Leah Bayley-Hay
Security has doubled down with steeper parking enforcement penalties as lots adjacent to large campus improvement projects at Owings Mills North begin in earnest. Students who fail to comply with required commuter parking passes may find costly parking tickets on their windshields.
These new penalties add to student anxieties, including attending in-person classes amid the pandemic. Some students feel as if getting to class safely is a highly important issue for them, especially considering that they must traverse three different campuses in Stevenson’s disjointed arrangement.
Getting to the North Campus, especially throughout the winter, has meant choosing between walking the Dell Family Pathway in harsh weather, or crowding onto stuffy shuttles where masks were enforced but social distancing, consistent with COVID-19 protocols was sometimes impossible.
“I feel as though the lack of social distancing on the shuttles is a little odd. Since we are still having to social distance in the classrooms, it only makes sense that we should be social distancing on the shuttles as well,” said senior Hannah Bagley. “The fact that there is such a strict policy on parking at North makes the shuttles more crowded.”
Despite the health concerns, there are other factors that could be influencing the harsh enforcement of parking policies. Construction of the new Philip A. Zaffere library on the North campus has started and along with it, the presence of hefty construction machinery and vehicles that have cut the available parking of the gravel lot in half. In addition to the continued construction, the increase of residential students driving to class has left little available parking in the bigger lot – an issue that has resulted in a dramatic increase of traffic exiting Owings Mills North campus.
The original policy has restricted residential students or non-commuter/faculty drivers from parking at the North lots Monday through Thursday until after 5 P.M., Fridays until after 2 P.M., and outside the hours of 8 A.M. and 4 P.M. on Saturdays and Sundays.
“With the closed-in space and the mask mandates loosening up I don’t feel as safe taking the shuttles, but I also don’t feel like I ever felt super safe on them because of the lack of social distancing. It just seems like, with the small space and the lack of ventilation, it’s not as safe,” Bagley said.
With the waxing and waning of the virus, this will be something to think about as the campus moves towards finding a new “normal” of navigating academic life safely.