Megan Trotter | News Editor
Duquesne University’s decision to allow freshmen to park on campus this fall has led to overcrowded garages, frustration among students and the need to use valet parking to ensure a space.
This year, with record-breaking admissions, the 2023 incoming class comprised over 1,500 first-year students alone. With a total of 8,700 graduate and undergraduate students and only 3,000 parking spaces available on campus, finding a spot has become a challenge.
The new parking policy was announced in an email from Duquesne University Official Communication updating faculty members on changes in employee parking permits on May 3.
“We now see increased demand for freshman parking on campus. Historically, the university has not permitted freshmen to park on campus,” the email said. “However, consistent with our efforts to enhance the student experience, starting in fall 2023, freshmen who desire to purchase a parking permit will be allowed to do so.”
University spokesperson Rosemary Ravasio said the May 3, email was a “misstatement” and university officials told the Duke, the current policy is more than 10 years old.
“Freshman residents (including first semester freshman) have been able to park on campus since 2012,” Scott Richards, Assistant VP for Auxiliary Services, said in an email last week.
The policy has proved to be frustrating for commuting students who already face regular uncertainty with traffic and construction and now have to circle the garage multiple times to find a spot.
Junior Emily Segar said that she was excited to be living off-campus this year and have a car to transport her back and forth. She thought she would get to sleep in and have more time to commute to school.
“But because of this parking garage situation, I now have to wake up early,” Segar said.
Segar, like many other students, has started leaving for class more than two hours early. Although her commute from Mt. Washington is only seven to ten minutes, she has to leave that early to accommodate the length of time it takes to find a parking spot on campus.
“First and foremost, there shouldn’t be a cause for valet. Everyone who buys a pass should be able to park in the garage. That’s the reason we spend so much money on it,” Segar said.
The price of parking passes on campus ranges depending on the duration of time students plan to park their car. Semester-long passes cost $600, while passes for the academic year cost more than $860. For a full year of parking, students will pay just over $1100.
Richards said this is not the first time Duquesne parking has offered valet service on campus.
“The valet parking we’ve done for the start of this semester is something we have done many times in previous years, as an option to maximize parking in our garages,” Richards said in an email.
He said the process has been successful and “able to handle parking needs during our busiest times on campus.”
“To manage the process, we keep parking attendants on the valeted floors until the cars are put into spaces, or until 2:30 p.m. After 2:30, keys of valeted vehicles are taken to the Locust Entrance Garage for pick up,” Richards said in an email.
Over the summer, Duquesne also acquired 200 more permits in the Chatham Garage, located about one block from the Power Center. These spots are supposed to help with the increase of parking passes sold. Richards said in an email that these “permits are being used by staff and resident upperclassmen and were distributed prior to the start of this school year.”
Even with the steps the university has taken to ease congestion, many students are still concerned about the ongoing sale of permits and the ability to find a parking spot daily.
Duquesne alum Hannah Goss said she doesn’t remember knowing anyone who parked on campus her freshman year in 2019.
“I don’t believe freshmen were able to park on campus. They had to wait until sophomore year,” Goss said.
On the second day of classes this semester, junior Paige Welch said she witnessed two male students yelling at a valet worker as she entered the garage. They were upset about paying more than $1,000 for a parking pass but were unable to find a spot. One of the students even said that the lack of accessible parking had caused him to miss one of his classes on the second day of the semester.
“He was just kind of having a tantrum, but as he should,” Welch said.
When students are unable to find their own spot, they turn over their vehicles to a valet, who parks for them, sometimes in haphazard fashion in Locust Garage, students said.
“People can still go in and out of the garage, but it blocks people into their spots. I was only blocked by the edge of someone’s car nose-parked next to me, so I could squeeze out,” Welch said.
On Aug. 21, a vehicle owner reported damage to her car after it was valet-parked, according to campus police.
“I think it’s ridiculous like we’re not a hotel or not a fancy restaurant, and it’s not like an actual valet. Your car doesn’t go and get parked in a different garage. Your car’s out in the middle of the main drag that people drive on. And that’s like— my car could get dented,” Welch said.
Surrounding Pittsburgh colleges also allow first-year students to purchase parking passes. The University of Pittsburgh operates on a first-come, first-served basis for commuter parking, while Carnegie Mellon University provides off-campus parking near the student shuttle.
Freshman Audrey Stafford said she feels lucky to be able to park on campus. She said she didn’t experience the same traffic as commuter students and didn’t even know about the valet.
“For me, it’s been honestly pretty easy. I actually park in the same spot every time I go,” Stafford said.
Richards anticipates that after the school year settles, there will no longer be a need for valet parking.
In the meantime, he suggests students allow for extra time to get to campus or consider using Duquesne’s shuttles or the UPass system for public transportation. Parking passes continue to be available for purchase.