The school should provide better parking

Finding the perfect parking spot can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack, especially when you’re contending with limited spaces and the morning rush. As we step into another school year, it’s clear that parking on campus is not just a logistical challenge but also a hot topic amongst the student body. The battle for that elusive parking space isn’t just about convenience; it has become a daily test of patience and strategy. The rules for parking on campus affect not only seniors who currently deal with parking problems, but also other forms, as they will soon be dealing with the same issues. As driving to school becomes more widespread, Haverford parking might have to adapt to allow further flexibility in its system. 

The school already has a detailed and comprehensive parking plan in place, which allows Sixth Formers to park on campus while rotating on a trimester basis. Sixth Form dean and Spanish teacher Ms. Brooke Kenna is in charge of parking for students. The administrative body is not oblivious to the parking issues, and Ms. Kenna is very involved in making sure people get their spots.

Ms. Kenna, who has run Haverford parking for years, provides some insight into how seniors get spots and what the distribution is.

“First, I send an email over the summer where rising seniors express interest in parking for the coming school year,” Ms. Kenna said. “ I remind them at the end of the year about this, and I ask them to set a reminder to check their email.  The deadline is usually 2 weeks before school begins.  Once I have that list, Mr. Kolade and I start our organization process.  There are only around 50 spots available to us, so we try to figure out how to give everyone the most parking time we can while still being fair. […]  I remind them of the rules and expectations, and then they receive their parking passes.  Regarding procedures, it’s pretty cut and dry once the school year commences: follow the rules or you will not be allowed to park on campus.”

The faculty and visitor Green Lot in front of Wilson Hall – Pierce Laveran ’24

Ms. Kenna also acknowledges that the issue of limited parking space exists.

“I’ve been delighted to see the Signet members buying into not only helping me/us manage the spaces we have, but also coming up with ideas for how we can improve policies,” Ms. Kenna said. “I would welcome any (realistic) suggestions from anyone in the community!!  Unfortunately, knocking down buildings or taking over fields is not only cost-prohibitive but also not realistic at this time.”

Perhaps the most important voices when discussing parking at Haverford are the seniors who drive every day. Parking is an important part of high school, as it builds responsibility in students, allows them to attend class on time, and gives them an experience similar to college. Sixth Formers Michael Wylie and Ethan Lee park on campus almost every day, and reap the benefits and face recurring problems with the system often. 

“I think that [the system] works pretty well when people follow the guidelines that are laid out, but when people don’t and say someone parks in someone else’s spot, it can create a chain reaction and just leads to a whole mess,” Wylie said, who parks on campus every day of his rotational schedule. 

Both Wylie and Lee acknowledge that when things do go wrong, there are systems in place to make sure justice is served. These systems are run by Signet Society, and the administration. This helps build a feeling of peer trust, and accountability in the Sixth Formers. Parking is also a big part of operating autonomously, and is part of the experience of being a young man in today’s society.

“Punishments should fit the crime,” Lee said, who also parks on campus every day. “I think [the parking system] is not ideal, just because you only get parking for half the year. It’s not ideal for seniors, who have to rely on our cars to get around. Driving ourselves is part of becoming the independent young man that Haverford teaches us to be, and it is not ideal that we only get parking for half the year.” 

A four-hour parking sign on one side of Old Lancaster Road – Pierce Laveran ’24

However, it is widely understood that due to the size of our campus, restrictions on the system are difficult to overcome.

“It is what it is,” Lee said. “I understand that we have very little parking on campus just because of how small our campus is. There’s nothing we can do to change that.” 

Despite on-campus parking being confined to just our physical space, the actual parking system is more malleable and has been a topic of discussion for the past few years. Maybe it’s time to reimagine our daily commute? Carpooling, biking, or even the wild idea of a school shuttle – these are all worthy alternatives that could ease the parking pressure. Other methods, such as staggered parking times, off-campus parking with shuttles, and temporary overflow parking would all have their own obstacles and issues, but are always discussable. As a community, it is always encouraged for students to communicate, collaborate, and brainstorm to find solutions to problems facing the entire student body.