The independent news organization of Duke University

Lack of parking at Student Health poses problems for sick students

<p>The new Student Health and Wellness Center will eventually have five parking spaces, but some students say that is still not enough.&nbsp;</p>

The new Student Health and Wellness Center will eventually have five parking spaces, but some students say that is still not enough. 

For several weeks after its opening, students using the new Student Health and Wellness Center did not have on-site parking. And even after several spaces were made available, students are concerned that the solution is not sufficient.

In a post dated Feb. 23 in the Fix My Campus group on Facebook, sophomore Haley Hedrick wrote that she was frustrated by the lack of parking options. 

“Can there be some kind of reserved parking spaces for those going to Student Health/CAPS like there used to be? I've gotten two $50 tickets within the past two weeks for parking in Kilgo because I was too sick to take the bus and walk all the way there,” she wrote. 

In order to address the concerns, Student Health and Parking and Transportation Services created three temporary, one-hour parking spaces in a gravel lot across from the building for the remainder of construction, wrote John Vaughn, director of student health, in an email.

“In the long term, there will be five spaces designated for students going to Student Health in the Beta/Kilgo lot once that lot is updated,” Vaughn added.

Portions of the building first opened to students in early January. Although construction is still in progress, some services, such as Student Health and Counseling and Psychological Services, are already open. Still, several students said accessible ways to access the building are lacking.

“It’s frustrating because I can’t imagine going to a single health care provider and not being able to find parking,” Hedrick told The Chronicle. “And there wasn’t even a solution when it’s been open for months and they’ve been planning it for a long time.”

Ceri Weber, a third-year graduate student in cell biology, said that although she was happy about the quick response time by the University, she was disappointed by the lack of communication. She said some graduate students were confused about why the building opened so early.

“Maybe it would have been a smooth transition if the building was done, it was beautiful and it had parking,” Weber said. 

She added that the University did not provided sufficient information about the new parking spaces to the graduate student body. Graduate students who use Student Health often live off campus and have to drive. 

At Student Health's old location in the Duke Clinic, three parking spaces were designated for patients, said Sue Wasiolek, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

“Our experience is that three seemed to work most of the time, yet we decided that we would increase that number to five,” she said.

Still, some students doubted that five parking spaces would satisfy the demand. Weber said that a five-car lot would be “tiny” considering the building would house other services, includng CAPS and the Wellness Center.

The three parking spaces for the old Student Health location were also frequently filled, she added.

Hedrick noted that she expects the demand for Student Health services to grow.

“Totally ignoring everything else in the building, Student Health is larger,” she said. “There’s more spaces, and it’s certainly become a lot easier to get in, which would indicate to me that they’re taking on a greater capacity of students.”

Vaughn wrote that students should normally “be encouraged to walk, bus or park in the Bryan Center Garage.”

But Weber and Hedrick said parking in the Bryan Center Garage is not ideal and sometimes not feasible.

“When literally what you exist for is serving sick people, I think it’s kind of ridiculous to expect everyone to try not to use these spaces, and to try to bus or park in the [Bryan Center],” Hedrick said.

In her Fix My Campus post, Hedrick also wrote that the Bryan Center lot was “chronically full.” In addition, Hedrick noted that students should not have pay for parking in the Bryan Center Garage for every trip they take to the Student Health and Wellness Center.

“The problem with Bryan Center is that it’s kind of a hike,” Weber said. “Walking is obviously fine if you’re healthy, but for people that are mobility-impaired or sick, you can’t really ask them to park in [the Bryan Center].”

Vaughn noted that students can receive a parking waiver at Student Health that exempts them from paying for Bryan Center parking while they were at Student Health.

Even so, Hedrick said the whole situation illuminated the “disaster” of insufficient parking on campus.

“I think the idea is that they want it to be a pedestrian campus, but there are certain times when that’s just not practical,” Hedrick said. “I think at some point it’s causing more problems than it is actually helping the campus culture.”


Share and discuss “Lack of parking at Student Health poses problems for sick students” on social media.