In the past few weeks, we all have heard about the immediate and pressing dilemmas facing Parking and Transportation Services, particularly in regards to parking and bussing around West Campus. The increased demand from higher numbers of students has happened concurrently with a decrease in services, a decline stemming from a decision by the University administration to protect provost-area academic funding during the economic decline and instead make cuts in Central Services—one area being the heavily subsidized PTS. I think this move was the right one, but it does mean that we need to examine even more closely how we can make do with our limited resources. With that in mind, I urge the graduate and professional school deans, who have the most leverage in these negotiations, to take an even greater interest in addressing some of these problems.
I have two suggestions: First, G&P deans should fight for more parking allocations and attention for their students with PTS and Central Services. As they are well aware, income from professional schools, especially the Medical School, make up a large portion of the funds allocated to Central Services. Deans and student leaders alike should fight to make sure that our needs are adequately addressed, given that we are paying for and subsidizing these services. Consider that freshmen on a purportedly residential campus, which has everything one needs within walking distance and is largely closed to the graduate population, are given a parking allocation for their cars to sit idle in a lot. Postgraduate students and employees, on the other hand, have to fight for parking and find bussing to their workplaces on a daily basis. These commuters often have to compromise with their families on where they can live, and it is often elsewhere in the Triangle. This imbalance is, quite frankly, insulting to those who cannot live close to work, and G&P deans are the best advocates for righting this inequity.
My second suggestion is that G&P deans should commit to presenting alternative transportation options and local housing to their newly admitted students this Spring. There are plenty of housing options available near campus for which there are easy and affordable ways to get to campus without relying on a car. PTS and the administration have already stated that there will be no foreseeable increases in parking spaces. The elimination of parking spaces along Anderson and Towerview, heavily used by G&P students, are signs of things to come. If enrollment continues to increase, the only way to create a sustainable model is for more students to take advantage of alternative transportation. There are already several University sponsored options available—the LaSalle Loop, Bull City Connector, Duke Bikes—and as these become more popular more and more will pop up. G&P deans and their staff members should encourage their new students to take advantage of these options before they settle down, instilling in them from the start that Duke is a culture committed to environmental and logistical sustainability.
In contrast to the undergraduate program, concentrated effort on the part of all our postgraduate programs together is needed to avoid overlooking our overlapping needs. The most consistent request of GPSC over the past few months from G&P students across the board has been for help in solving students’ parking woes. It is my hope that, particularly in this area, G&P deans will be able to work together and make sure that our disparate voices are all heard in unison.
President, Graduate and Professional Student Council
Ph.D. Candidate, Classical Studies