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The transportation of education

October 6, 2015

Campus Parking Services buildingEveryone knows the importance of attending class, which is why campus parking is of the utmost priority for Darren Mitchell.

As the newly appointed director of Campus Parking, Mitchell’s priority is to ensure that Huskie drivers have a safe and efficient parking experience when they arrive.

“We are very concerned about campus parking, because obviously parking is a very important entity to the campus and surrounding communities,” said Mitchell, who took the post Sept. 1.

“Our mission is to be customer-friendly, and make sure we deliver parking services in a professional and efficient manner.”

With more than 10,000 parking spaces around campus, it’s a big job. The good news, Mitchell said, is that there are plenty of systems in place to help drivers navigate the parking situation.

“It all starts with getting access to parking information, and understanding the rules and regulations surrounding parking,” Mitchell said. “You can find the information on our website or on the paper maps we provide to all of our customers who purchase permits.”

Mitchell said understanding where drivers can and cannot park is critical, as well as understanding the fines assessed for violating the rules.

“We have tried to make it convenient for students to understand what parking locations are closest to their classroom buildings, and what other transportation options we have to avoid having to drive your car altogether,” Mitchell said.

NIU parking deck

Laura Lundelius, NIU’s director of Campus Services, agreed, adding that sometimes the closest spot isn’t the optimum spot.

“Look at the parking lots near where you have class, but also look at alternative parking,” Lundelius said. “Peak parking hours are between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., and it can be really difficult to find a parking space in the areas that are more congested during those times.”

Lundelius recommends students plan ahead, as the beginning of a new semester always involves a new learning curve. Students should consider alternative transportation as well, including the HuskieLine, biking, walking or carpooling to campus.

“At the beginning of the semester we have new students or students who are going to different buildings that they haven’t been to before,” she said. “Plan ahead, and give yourself enough time to get where you need to go.”

NIU’s parking services team is responsive, and looks for ways to better serve the community.

Students should consider alternative transportation as well, including the HuskieLine, biking, walking or carpooling to campus.

Students should consider alternative transportation as well,
including the HuskieLine, biking, walking or carpooling to campus.

“We go out at various times of the day to different parking lots where we know parking is difficult for students, and look to see if we are able to make any adjustments in our allocations for parking,” Lundelius said. “Just last week we did a review, and were able to make some changes that we are working on now.”

Changes include adding 79 “yellow” commuter spaces – 38 in the parking garage, 30 in the lot south of Anderson Hall and 11 on Stadium Drive North.

“We are responsive to the needs of our customers and we do listen,” Mitchell said.  “We receive information on our website and make sure we listen to the requests that our customers. We want to be effective in delivering better parking services to our faculty, staff, students and our visitors.”

Another way students can be heard is by joining the Campus Parking Committee. Four students are appointed by the Student Association each year, and join four faculty, four operating staff, four supportive professional staff and Mitchell in advising the vice president for Administration and Finance regarding parking and traffic matters.

The Campus Parking Committee is currently seeking to fill the four student positions. Those interested should contact the Student Association for more information.

“It’s important to understand that the Campus Parking Committee is very important and instrumental in influencing how parking is developed at the university,” Mitchell said. “The administration promotes shared governing and the committee is an opportunity for representatives to get involved and have an influence on parking here on campus.”

Questions? Suggestions? Email [email protected].

by Jane Donahue