Revert the ORHS Parking System to the previous one or rebuild it with a new committee.
Revert the ORHS Parking System to the previous one or rebuild it with a new committee.
On June 6th, 2019, the ORHS Administration held multiple assemblies during assigned study time to inform the rising juniors and seniors (Classes of 2021 and 2020 respectively) that the parking system would be changing in the coming year. As opposed to the system of years past where seniors received priority and juniors were able to obtain the leftover spots through a raffle, the system would now require students to find a carpool-mate in order to move up the lottery pool. This current system will likely allow most seniors to park, however that is a hypothetical, and it is unfair to the small percentage of seniors it has potential to phase out.
This new system, while was made with good intentions, creates an unfair situation where the requirements to jump higher in the lottery pool are inaccessible to some students, doesn't give substantial or reasonable examples as to how the environment can benefit from it, doesn't consider potential loopholes that students are already planning on abusing, and is unfair to seniors who have patiently waited their turn to park like every class before them. The system was created by a Student Senate and Administration run committee that the members chose not to inform their peers of, and did not take their feedback or input on any solutions, instead they acted individually from the people they were elected to represent, which goes against the goals of student government.
The new system begins by allowing seniors who carpool with at least one other person with a license to have the first chance in the lottery. This stays consistent with years past by giving seniors priority and rewards students for carpooling, however, the number of seniors who are able to drive and also willing to carpool makes the change ineffective. After the seniors, juniors are next in the pool, despite for the last few years being dead last. The requirement for juniors in this section of the lottery pool is to find two other licensed drivers to carpool with, and this is problematic for many reasons. The foremost being that it is expected in our school community and many others that the seniors be given priority, as they have waited three years, often have the most responsibilities outside of school and are the soonest eligible to receive open campus during their free periods. With the large size of the junior class, this has the potential to take spots nearly 80 spots away from the seniors, and greatly limit the mobility that seniors have, and growing class sizes will only take away more senior spots as time goes on, as there is a trend at our school that one class is smaller than the one behind it. Yes, this year most seniors will be able to park, but what about in 5 years?
There are many issues with the system, but the main issue lies with the committee that created the system. Our student senate is supposed to represent us as a student body, however when this committee was formed, not one member informed their peers about it, or received feedback on the subject, instead they acted alone and for personal interests as opposed to being the voice of the student body. This is entirely against the goal of student government, and this misrepresentation is very apparent upon actually talking to members of both the Classes of 2020 and 2021. In order to ensure that the students are actually represented, the committee should meet again with other students involved, or a public forum be held during an accessible time for students such as during a dedicated flex period or after school to truly allow student expression.
The notion that the system will help the environment by decreasing drivers is farfetched and without evidence, potentially the opposite as well. Regardless of how spots are given out, we will have 215 drivers parking at the school. If Student A normally drives 5 miles to school, their round trip is 10 miles. If they decide to also pick up Student B, who lives 1 mile out of the way, their trip becomes 14 miles from getting them, getting back on track and going to school, dropping them off, and going home. If 215 drivers or a large majority of them all do this, they will use more gas than if 215 individual drivers come to the school. Sure, this will stop some parents from dropping off kids, but if kids who are normally bus riders are picked up, this has the potential to increase gas usage and emissions. Without statistics on who is driving, how others are getting here, and other important subjects being presented along with the solution, we cannot guarantee that we reduce gas usage and have to assume any situation is possible.
Some systematic issues were not even considered by the committee, or at least we students were not informed on how the school plans to address them. Many students this year received parking passes, and their families and employers became accommodated to the newfound flexibility that the parking pass let them happen. If students who parked this year, Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 alike, lose the privilege of parking, it has the potential to create negative consequences at home, and at work. Families will have to make a backward change, which will create extra stress and potentially prevent families from spending the time needed at jobs, extracurriculars, and general time together. If students lose time after school, it also could cause them to potentially repercussions at their jobs, as many employers are very strict about changing availability. A large sum of the students who are not planning on carpooling are those who need spots for after-school activities and cannot afford time-wise to drive other students or be driven around, and them being moved down the lottery pool does the opposite of what the goal of student parking is: make student lives easier.
There are also exists a plethora of loopholes, that many students are already bragging about manipulating, and aren't at all addressed by the school. Some students are partnering with students who are already ensured parking passes due to Extended Learning Opportunities for rideshare passes, some are partnering with students who have licenses but no car to drive to school (therefore not actually carpooling with someone who would drive otherwise), and listing students who live in walking distance or they don't plan on actually driving to school. If applications are not properly vetted, people will receive rewards for lying, and honest people will not be able to receive spots. Students should have to prove they're carpooling, or else they do not accomplish the goal of carpooling to help the planet. Students should have to prove they actually can drive here, with licenses and car registrations, or else they cheat the system and don't actually take drivers away.
This issue doesn't fix the parking problem, it just changes when and how it hurts you. The system of juniors receiving the leftover spots from the seniors was fine with everyone- until they lost the raffle and got upset. Any system is going to create losers, this one just creates them in a different way. There is no solution that will please everyone, but there are many that will upset more people than others, and this is one of them.
All students should be upset with this decision and its effects. Some students may benefit this coming year, but the next they could be hurt by it. This system will give some students subjective advantages, and students with the flexibility in their lives to carpool do not need spots when compared to the ones who will drive on their own. The system doesn't consider how student lives will be affected if they lose a pass. The system doesn't give substantial explanations as to how the environment will be affected. The system doesn't address loopholes. And lastly, the system wasn't created by people representing the student body, as shown by the extremely large influx of petitions, people signing them, and general discontent. The ORHS Student Senate, Administration, and Student Body should take time in the coming weeks to create a solution together, and ensure that a system that truly benefits the students is created.
Possible solutions I have discussed with peers and would love to discuss further with administration and the student senate are listed below:
- Seniors are given the two lots near the athletic fields, where individual parking is allowed, Juniors who RideShare are given the lot near the gymnasium, and the spots along Coe Drive are divided based upon percentages of applicants, their needs, and other factors. Lottery decides who gets the spots, however, seniors who RideShare can skip the lottery.
- The old system is mostly kept in place, and remaining spots for juniors are given out through RideShare as opposed to individual parking like this past school year.
- The system mentioned in an email from earlier this year of only senior parking is enacted, in order to stop anyone from "losing" the lottery, despite if it's inefficient.
None of these mention construction if you noticed, because that in an unrealistic solution to this problem in the short term. Perhaps in the future as the school grows, but the odds of adding more spots by August is far fetched.
I truly hope they we as a Student Body and School Community can reach a solution that suits us all, and allows for students to get to school comfortably, safely, and effectively.