For the past several weeks, the Duke Facebook group “Fix My Campus” has been flooded with complaints from undergraduates lamenting the injustice of the current parking system. The complaints range from multiple tickets being issued on one day for the same offense to encroachment tickets for parking on fainted lines. These complaints are nothing new with published complaints going back Moreover, such grievances also highlight a number of flaws within Duke’s current Parking and Transportation Services that desperately is in need of reform.
Primarily, Duke’s current undergraduate parking model creates grave concerns for safety. Often, drivers, particularly commuters, are forced to park their vehicles in the furthest Blue Zone lots. These lots are considerably closer to Duke University Road than Towerview and are accessible only by a ten minute walk along a sparsely populated road. When these same students need to access their cars during the evening, they must make this trip in the dark. Despite supposed policing, no member of the editorial board has yet seen security personnel in the Blue Zone despite constant personal use of said lots. Duke has an obligation to help ensure the safety of its students and, as such, must address our current parking situation.
Secondly, complaints often highlight the seemingly predatory nature of Duke’s parking model. Students pay exorbitantly high fees to park in the Blue Zone with passes for the year. Moreover, these expensive passes do not include a guaranteed spot and often, during football season, Duke will actively sell these spots out from the very students who have already paid for them. Ticketing practices are often considerable hindrances on students who opt to bring a car to campus. Frequently, such procedures are justified by treating cars as unnecessary luxuries but as many students have attested, Duke’s landlocked nature, the sprawling layout of Durham and largely inadequate public transportation services make car ownership essential for students living and working outside of campus. By making car ownership harder for students, Duke makes it harder for us to exercise our rights to non-Duke run services and to avoid the convenience premium rendered on most campus goods and services.
Additionally, Duke’s parking procedures are incredibly opaque with students often being unsure of what the exact parking regulations are. These regulations are determined by larger forces than their executors but are often only made known through said executors. Too often, Duke students are made aware of parking regulations through low wage earning contractors who regulate the lots during particular hours. As such, when much justified rage comes to bare, it is often taken out on these workers. These workers have absolutely no say in the regulations themselves and are often just people earning their living. By hiding behind this system of opaque bureaucracy, Duke PTS manages to evade much of the student body’s wrath.
There are many reforms that could be undertaken to help rectify our broken parking system. The most pressing issue is the need for more transparency regarding PTS and its oversight. Most students do not recognize that parking is overseen by the same structure that runs all of including our extensive bus system. When they do aim to voice frustration, though, they find that normal avenues for their voices such as DSG and FMC are not able to handle the situation. Reformed transparency would open up communication for the University and students to make sure student needs are being met. These discussions would open up meaningful insights and hopefully innovative solutions such as new parking garages, improved security and clearer policies. Personally, we vote for the parking garage.
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