Several cars parallel parked alongside Seaver Drive on Pepperdine’s Malibu campus Aug. 30. Many students say they struggle to find parking at the start of the fall 2021 semester due to the elimination of several parking spots on campus. Photo by Ryan Brinkman
For the past three semesters, the majority of students skipped the commute to class — most just went from their beds to their desks to hop onto their Zoom classes for the day. But with the return to in-person classes, transportation is a greater worry.
Whether it’s a commute from an off-campus apartment or on-campus housing, students are bonding over one thing: They cannot find parking.
“It just sucks that we have to stress about parking,” commuter student Ale Hurtado said. “Something so minimal — we shouldn’t have to worry about it.”
The problem of parking isn’t just inconvenient for students; it adds on a layer of stress, especially for commuters or for students who need to drive off campus for work or personal reasons.
While there may not be any immediate solutions in sight, students can help resolve the issue by parking in designated areas on campus, carpooling and arriving early to class.
The Problem of Parking
This year— with the largest first-year class ever, an increased sophomore class presence due to canceled abroad programs and the elimination of roughly 200 parking spots, according to the Department of Public Safety — parking is minimal for students.
In addition, the University lost 100 more parking spots when it built Seaside in 2018, according to a March 8 interview with Chief Operating Officer Phil Phillips.
In the email, DPS also announced first-year students would be required to park in designated areas on Drescher Graduate Campus. Drescher is approximately 1 mile from main campus, according to Google Maps.
“It’s pretty inconvenient right now — having to park at Drescher and walk down,” first-year Chase Curry said. “I wish there was a solution, and I wish that everyone could park on campus.”
The University currently offers around 4,100 on-campus parking spots, Director of Public Safety Dawn Emrich wrote in a Sept. 7 email to the Graphic.
There are 3,459 undergraduate students enrolled at Pepperdine and 6,095 graduate students enrolled, according to the Pepperdine 2020-21 Common Data Set. Pepperdine also employs 841 total instructional faculty, according to the data set.
While not all students bring cars to campus and not every enrolled student comes to the Malibu campus every day, there is still a larger number of students and faculty members than there are parking spots available.
In addition, Pepperdine employs on-campus workers who need parking, and the University reserves spaces for visitors and prospective students.
DPS issues parking permits to community members on a rolling basis and updates the permits if individuals change vehicles, begin working at Pepperdine or move off campus — resulting in a change in their parking destination on campus — Emrich wrote.
The Effects of Limited Parking
In a Sept. 6 survey conducted by the Graphic of over 40 students, 91% said they struggled to find parking in the first week of school, and 24% said they were late to a class because they couldn’t find parking.
“I feel like it adds a lot of stress trying to find a parking spot,” sophomore Maci Brown said. “I don’t want to leave campus and go anywhere because then I won’t be able to find a spot.”
For commuter students, parking is not only an additional stressor but also a waste of time, Hurtado said.
“My roommate and I have had to leave 40 minutes early every single day to come find parking,” Hurtado said. “Yesterday, I left an hour before my 1 p.m. class, and I just circled campus twice.”
Not only is the parking situation stressful, but senior Laura Kawas said it is also physically exhausting to walk on Pepperdine’s campus. Kawas is a commuter student and said she felt like the parking was worse this year than any other year.
“It’s been awful,” Kawas said. “I had to walk literally up stairs. It only said it was half a mile, but it said it was 19 flights of stairs on my phone, and I almost passed out when I got to class.”
For students who have a need to leave campus for reasons such as work, there is also anxiety about getting back to campus.
Sophomore Mariah Macias works at Faherty in the Malibu Country Mart, and she said it is stressful to leave in her car, not knowing if there will be space when she returns to campus.
“Our lot is entirely full usually when I get back, so I can’t really park there,” Macias said. “Obviously, there’s no parking anywhere else, so it’s been a bit of a mess.”
Possible Solutions for Parking on Campus
To help solve the parking problem, the University is constructing a 304-space lot in the vicinity of the soccer and baseball fields, replacing three prior lots. The lot will be done Aug. 2022 and will provide 201 more spaces than the previous lot. After this lot is complete, the University will offer over 4,500 on-campus spaces, Emrich wrote.
Surveyed students suggested Pepperdine should not allow first-years to bring a car in the future, stop construction until fewer students are on campus and open faculty-only lots where there are consistently open spots.
Another surveyed student wrote there should be shuttles from Malibu Canyon Village (Stinkies), Vista Pacific, De Ville and Calabasas apartments for students who live off campus.
Student Government Association is working with University administrators to provide solutions for students by partnering with Lyft to be available within the academic year and encouraging students to park in their designated areas, Vice President of Administration Clara Fermanian wrote in an email to the Graphic.
The Lyft partnership would allow for students to get a ride at a discounted rate and would provide incentives for students to park their cars off campus, Fermanian wrote. SGA would like to start the Lyft program within the academic year and possibly by the end of the fall 2021 semester, but none of the programs are finalized yet.
SGA recommends students arrive 45 minutes early to campus and carpool with others as frequently as possible, according to the SGA Instagram story Aug. 31. SGA also encourages students to park in their designated areas, Fermanian wrote.
“There are enough spots on campus; students just need to park in the right spots,” Fermanian wrote.
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