Parking is a “Disability”

20,987. That large number is the amount of students currently enrolled at Montclair State University. However, only 5,200 of those students are living on campus. That is an estimate of over 15,000 students who commute to campus and have to find parking somewhere. One can only imagine how many of those students are disabled.

Montclair is known for being an extremely diverse campus. Our campus has thousands of students who come from many different backgrounds, races, and cultures. A significant amount of these students are disabled and/or require a handicapped parking pass. Whether these students are in wheelchairs or have a disability that prevents them from walking far distances, they all relate in the same way; they need accessible parking.

Parking on campus for students is hard for everyone. So hard in fact, Montclair State student Shannon Crehan had decided to move back on campus to lessen her burden of searching for parking. “I would leave my apartment an hour and half early for class despite the fact I lived only ten minutes from school. The stress of finding a parking spot in time to make it to class was overwhelming and lead to a decline in my grades. I felt I had no other option but to move back on campus.” If parking is such a stress factor for Crehan, a student who purchases a non-handicap parking pass, imagine what it is like for those who need that parking pass for their situation.

In a recent survey about on campus handicap parking, an astounding amount of students felt as if their parking was too far from their classes and not easily accessible. Recently a situation occurred where Montclair State student Nicole Mendez was looking for her handicap parking on campus, and unfortunately due to the lack of available spots had to park about twenty minutes away from her class. “I recently tore my ACL and obtained a handicap parking pass from the school to ease my commute to class. I couldn’t find any open spots close enough to my class and ended up parking by Machuga Heights and having to struggle to walk to University Hall.” Killeen’s situation is a prime example of how parking is inaccessible to students with handicaps.

Parking passes for both commuters and residents sell out extremely quickly. More often than not, students are forced to purchase a parking pass to the NJ Transit parking garage on Clove Road. This parking garage is extremely run down and not properly working, making it even more difficult for these students forced to park here. Resident, Jessica Woods, went to purchase her parking pass too late and had to resort to parking in the NJ Transit garage. “I have had leg braces since being a little girl which make it a little difficult to walk up and down stairs. I park in the NJ Transit parking garage and the elevator is constantly broken. It makes me nervous having to walk down the steep stairs by myself when the elevator is out of commission.” Woods’ fears and worries shouldn’t be a problem for her everyday life. The survey mentioned above also reported that students felt that is unfair that students, especially those with disabilities, have to resort to parking in this unreliable facility.

College is hard enough as it is for students. Unneeded stress, such as parking, is not necessary and unexpected to most students. Entering college we expect to encounter difficulties in our career but after talking to many students, commuters and residents, on campus, parking was never expected to be a difficulty. Students with disabilities are often able to adapt to their surroundings and environment. However, when a campus is setting them up to fail, in regards to parking, it is unfair and a disadvantage to them.

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