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Free for All Parking System Causes Conflict

Dan McNair, Video Editor

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In the parking lot of Susquehannock High School, both licensed students and staff are allowed to park their vehicles for the duration of the day.

In previous years, student drivers were assigned a single spot to be used for the duration of the school year, but, beginning this year, Susquehannock implemented a “free-for-all” system in which students can park in any open white spot marked as available for students.

Senior Sam Steines acknowledged both the pros and cons of the free-for-all system.

 “In the past with the specific parking spots, we knew at the very least that we would have the same empty spot to park in every day. So, we could kind of get in a routine of exactly how far we had to walk to get into the school and how much time it would take to get to our homeroom so that we could avoid being late. Now with the “free-for-all” system, it’s completely up in the air about where will we park, which then determines how much time it’s going to take to get into the school. Even if I show up on time, if the main parking lot is full, that means I would have to drive to other end of campus to park and probably be late. With the old system, at the very least, I knew how long I would have to walk into the building every morning with no change from day-to-day,” said Steines. 

Although parking spots at Susquehannock are divided between those designated for students and those designated for teachers, the division has not always been strictly enforced by school administrators this year. 

Susquehannock’s Assistant-Principal James Sterner feels that the transition from assigned spots to “free-for-all” parking was smooth.

“I think the unassigned parking also allows for flexibility and decision making, which are important in the real world as well. If you’ve got a new car and you want to protect that, you’re parking at the end of the parking lot no matter where you are. So, I think that there’s value in that it allows you to make decisions that are adult decisions,” said Sterner.

Sterner also noted that “free-for-all” parking does not exclusively apply to students; all faculty including administrators who formerly had assigned spots now also follow the “free-for-all” system.

Some students began parking their vehicles in the designated staff parking areas with the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year alongside the new “free-for-all” system, rather than driving to the Southern Elementary side of campus, where the nearest available student parking lot is located.

Senior Lucas Miller has experienced both the assigned spots and free-for-all systems.

“I honestly don’t really mind the new parking system because it encourages students to show up a bit earlier, plain and simple. I don’t know if that was what admin actually wanted to do, but the new system means that, if people want to secure a good spot that’s close to the building, they need to show up a little bit earlier,” said Miller.

Student driver Alex Marshall. Photo by Dan McNair.

The issue continued to escalate throughout the school year and, recently, the administration decided to take action.

Although several students had received warnings and minor tickets in the past, school administrators have been enforcing the parking spot division more strictly in recent weeks by issuing parking tickets to students who break the rule.

On the contrary, many students feel that it is simply more convenient to park in a “teacher” spot once their preferred parking lot has been filled because finding another “student” spot sometimes means driving to the opposite end of the campus, often resulting in unintentional tardiness.

“I don’t really have any concrete proof about it or anything, but, to me, it always seems like the teacher parking spots right in front of the main lobby are never full even with a bunch of faculty members parking there, and, even though I never mean to run late it sometimes happens, so it’s just so much easier to park in one of the unused teacher spots,” said an anonymous student.

A row of “teacher” parking spots in the background and “student” spots in the foreground. Photo by Dan McNair.

As of publishing this article, the district administration has no plans to return to the assigned-spots system.

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Free for All Parking System Causes Conflict