Quinnipiac addresses parking, transportation concerns

William Gavin, Staff Writer

Quinnipiac University administrators demanded students take an active role in decision making, at a Student Government Association (SGA) town hall on transportation and parking last week.

Chief Experience Officer Tom Ellett, Chief of Public Safety Tony Reyes and Assistant Vice President for One Stop and Registrar Josh Berry were in attendance at the event. Students asked questions about transportation and parking, which senior economics major and SGA Vice President Chris Longchamp called “the biggest issue facing students this year.”

Tom Ellett (left), Josh Berry (center) and Tony Reyes (right) said students should participate in parking and transportation decision. (Alex Bayer/Chronicle)

Students used the website Slido to anonymously ask the panelists questions.

Administrators were repeatedly asked how the university will fix the parking issues on the Mount Carmel campus since the North Lot is frequently saturated during the week due to the influx of students.

Ellett defended the university by saying that parking has always been an issue, but added that part of the problem is that first- and second-year students are able to bring their car to the campus this year. 

“If we’re not happy with the current situation, let’s go through what we could do to ameliorate the current situation,” Ellett said. “Do we go back to the 2019 policy of first-years and sophomores can’t come with a car, Monday through Friday, down to Mount Carmel?”

While the university has a combined 4,451 parking spots on the Mount Carmel and York Hill campuses and nearby off-campus lots, there are 2,702 spots for students on its main campus. 

Ellett also deferred the question to students and alleged that it should be the responsibility of the overall community, rather than One Stop or the administration, to determine the solution. 

“(S)o if you all determine what’s the most important thing for you as a community, as it relates to cars, is having cars on campus going to be a right or privilege?” Ellett said. “You have to make a decision, but you should be the ones making the decision.”

While speaking about the parking fee for commuter students and whether or not they would be guaranteed parking, Ellett reiterated that the solution should not be up to him or the university. 

“At the end of the day, it’s really this community and the larger communities (who should make the decision), because those students are the ones that are affected,” Ellett said. “So I know you keep hearing me try to push it off, but my experience has always been if we (the community) make a decision, it’s better than a binary decision.”

Due to the relocation of the tennis courts, Berry said around 300 spots in the North Lot will be temporarily lost. After the relocation, the lot will lose 145 spots permanently.

Berry said that the university is working with Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission to work out formalities concerning the renovations to the new recreation center. 

“We are dependent on the town approval process and given the current schedule of meetings the soonest we could expect approval would be at the end of October,” Berry told The Chronicle after the town hall. “We will not be able to confirm until sometime after we get approval in late October or early November at the earliest.”

The university will go before the Hamden Zoning Board of Appeals on Oct. 21, to present its case for installing eight 50-foot light poles, which is a part of the relocation plan. Nothing is scheduled for the relocation of the tennis courts as of publication.

Students also asked about the shuttles and how the university is planning to make them more reliable. 

In response, Reyes touted the “good communication” between the university and ProPark Mobility, the shuttle vendor contracted by the school. Due to drivers being assigned consistently to particular days, there is an additional layer of accountability as it is easy to find out which driver is working on a given day, Reyes said. 

Students attended the town hall that the Student Government Association hosted on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (Alex Bayer/Chronicle)

When asked about the New Haven shuttles’ cancellation, Reyes said that there was a low ridership that did not “justify” keeping the shuttle and that the shuttles were often “trashed.” 

“More importantly, on the New Haven side, it required us to have officers there to be on the shuttle because ProPark will not allow someone that is intoxicated on the vehicle,” Reyes said. “And so if, if we are doing (a shuttle), they require a public safety officer to be on the shuttle (if anyone is intoxicated) and that’s just an untenable policy.”

In September, senior political science and economics major and SGA President Nick Ciampanelli told The Chronicle that the former chief of Public Safety slashed the budget for transportation to New Haven in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SGA conducted a survey of 475 students in September about the shopping shuttles. While only 45% of students are currently using the existing shopping shuttles, over 81% of respondents said they would like to see the shuttles go to Union Station in New Haven. 

The university added a loop to Union Station twice a day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on Sept. 24, after The Chronicle published the article.