No parking at Kean

Students, faculty say parking is a ‘nightmare’ and is affecting learning at commuter heavy school

Photo By Cheryl Hehl Students say construction of a new building in an existing parking lot is just one of the many reasons they are often late for class because they cannot find a parking space.
Photo By Cheryl Hehl
Students say construction of a new building in an existing parking lot is just one of the many reasons they are often late for class because they cannot find a parking space.

UNION COUNTY — Although enrollment may be down at Kean University, it has not made it any easier for commuter students to find parking. In fact, students say parking was bad enough before, but now new construction is forcing them to park on the soccer field and take a trolley to the main campus.

Parking is so bad at Kean that students decided to start a petition to get the university president and board of trustees to listen to their plea.
The online petition noted that Kean’s solution to the parking problem was to “spray paint an extra parking lot on half of the soccer field located behind east campus.”

“Students should not have to fight over parking spots to receive the education they want and are paying for,” the online petition states. “This petition is to show that there is a parking problem and students and faculty alike are looking for a solution that has yet to come.”

The petition, which can be found online at www.change.org, goes on to ask Kean University
President Dawood Farahi and the board of trustees to “fix the parking problem.”

Some of the students signing the petition expressed how they felt about the parking situation at Kean, and did not mince words.

“I’m signing this petition because this has affected me for the past three years. After getting on campus more than a half-hour before my classes start, multiple times I have spent over an hour looking for a spot in every lot with no success, making me late to class or missing them entirely,” said Sarah Chirichella, adding that parking was a serious problem and this issue should be addressed before any new buildings are erected with no parking facilities.

Jasmine Wooten noted that she witnessed a student crying hysterically because she almost had to physically fight for a spot.
“She was so upset I almost wished she could park on top of my car. It shouldn’t be that way for a commuter based university. There should be more than enough spots, nobody should have to drive around for two hours for a spot,” added Wooten, pointing out she would rather commute two hours from her home in Delaware “than fight to the death over parking. Yet we keep building nonsense buildings that we could care less about.”

With an enrollment of 15,051 students and only approximately 4,300 spaces, finding a parking spot on campus is no easy task, and campus housing is limited.

James Castiglione, president of the Kean Federation of Teachers, agrees that parking is a very serious problem.
“Administrative mismanagement has resulted in parking at Kean becoming a nightmare, even under the current conditions of low enrollment at Kean’s Union campus,” Castiglione said. “Parking, always a challenge, has now become an academic crisis, preventing faculty and students alike from getting to class on time and thereby undermining teaching and learning at Kean.”

Every lot, including those at Kean Hall, East campus, Green Lane, Harwood Arena, Hutchinson Hennings, Wilkins, Bruce, Vaughn, Eames and the STEM building, are jammed every day, all day, from morning to late afternoon.

Students circle all of these lots until they hopefully see someone vacating a space. For some students it is more than frustrating, because after going from lot to lot for an extensive amount of time, they still cannot find a place to park.

“Are you kidding me? I have been here since 9:45 looking for a parking space and I have a class at 11,” said Janine, a junior, adding she just could not afford to miss another class.

“It’s 10:50 a.m., and I have a walk ahead of me to get to my class on time and its not going to happen unless I park illegally and that means a ticket. This just is crazy,” the student added.

Tareq Khan admitted he was fed up with wandering from parking lot to parking lot for up to two hours a day, and came up with a perfect solution, if only he could do it.

“I’m done trying to find a parking space every day. I’m going to camp in the woods behind Kean,” he said.
Another Kean student named Stephen said “it shouldn’t take a whole day to park my car, especially when I come an hour and a half before class.”

At yet another student named Evan thought getting to the university 45 minutes early would aid him in finding a parking space, but that failed to pan out, much to his frustration.

“I ended up being 30 minutes late to an hour-long lecture,” he said, adding “the parking scene is a real issue here.”
Although many students were quickly reaching the end of their patience by the third week of September, others tried very hard to maintain a good sense of humor.

This was especially true on the Kean University twitter site called “Not Dawood Farahi,” started by an anonymous student.
The site generates heavy posting, most relating to the parking situation at Kean and the other issues of too few trolleys available to haul students from parking lots, or the soccer field, to classes. One student comically revealed how he had a foolproof way to find a parking space quite easily, with a little help from a friend.

“Please send someone over to break my legs so I can have a handicapped parking space, signed an unparked student,” the twitter post read.
Manny Perez, on the other hand, figured if he left home for his 11 a.m. class around dawn, he might just make it to class on time after looking for a parking space.

“This is the third building they are putting up here at Kean and still no parking garage,” he said.
Perez was referring to the fact that in 2007, when Moody’s Investor Services downgraded Kean University’s outstanding debt obligations, they noted that enrollment was up by 15 percent to 9,451 students, but the university was only able to provide housing for 1,437 students, leaving the majority of students to commute to campus.”

Moody’s, though, pointed out in their report that the university’s outlook was being rated stable at that time because Kean would be using proceeds from a series of bonds “for the construction of two new residential facilities and “the construction of a 600-car multi level parking deck.”

The deck, however, was never built.

In 2012, parking fared no better. Things were so bad that year the university allowed students to park on the field next to the Vaughn Eames lot. This year, though, parking at that lot went from bad to worse because of construction of a new building that has taken up a good portion of the lot.

Jane Sweeney felt the university could have solved the parking problem quite easily if they opted to build a parking deck adjacent to the Vaughn Eames lot, instead of another new building.

Abby, who admitted she was losing her patience, said parking was so bad that she drove around looking for a parking spot until one minute before her class ended. Another student, Drea, had to miss her class because after driving around for two hours and not finding a parking space, she simply had no other choice but to give up and go home.

“This is why our graduation percentage is so low,” she said.
One student spent $114 on a parking pass that let him park on campus and then was told if he couldn’t find a spot he could use the free lot and take a trolley or shuttle to class.

Others, admittedly frustrated and discouraged, said they have no other choice but to park on the grass somewhere on campus and risk getting a ticket.

However, one student said grass took precedence over parking spaces at Kean.
“Welcome to Kean where they worry more about grass than parking,” he said.

5 Responses to "No parking at Kean"

  1. Manny Perez   September 30, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Dear Cheryl Hehl,
    Comments made in this article were fabricated and made up. I did not say “This is the third building they are putting up here at Kean and still no parking garage,”

  2. Dee   October 1, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Parking was a problem back when it was Kean College when I went there, and I graduated in 1985!! This isn’t a new problem.

  3. Andrew   October 2, 2014 at 6:31 am

    This is insane. Why does kean need so many new buildings anyway. Nobody goes there.

  4. Informed KU Student   October 2, 2014 at 8:51 am

    This article has a lot of untrue points. First enrollment to the university has increased since 2012 and especially this year. Secondly, the university has been in rapid expansion to foster a more modernized approach to higher education hence the new facilities. Thirdly, parking is free (which could be part of the problem for example, free vs. Train ticket). The student who bought a $114 parking pass is clearly not going to Kean University or was a victim of unfortunate circumstances. A parking deck will probably not be built given the cost of construction and thus charging students tremendous amounts of money for a parking pass to pay for it. This article seems to be dramatic and slightly contradictory as it does not take a good examination of the situation but rather, a firing of complaints regarding the situation. Is this why our graduation rates are so low? Because of parking? Seriously? Not attributing to the changing goals or motivation of students, but parking? Rather, what is the graduation rate? Would it make more sense to use as credible information as possible to justify claims? One more thing, parking on East Campus and taking the trolley is a big deal? What would these students express at Rutgers? Montclair? Especially with their bus systems and different campuses and parking issues. Sounds like people are lazy to take a 10min bus ride or walk the 15 minutes across the street. KU is a small but growing community and we should be thankful that this university’s biggest problem is parking and not something else.

  5. Jason Norton   October 2, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Manny the comments may not be accurate but let me add this from an Alumni standpoint. I started at Kean in 1998 and graduated for the final time in 2009 with a second Masters Degree from Kean. From that time until the current time (as of September 2014) parking has been an issue. When I was a student I spent about a year being a good student and like all the rest circled the lot like a vulture hoping to pounce on an open spot. After a year I said to heck with it and stopped paying for a parking pass and just took professor spots so that I could get to class. It became an economic issue and it still is. Do I the student blow $1,350 on a 3 credit class and $114 on a parking pass (as it was in 1998) and then play chicken with missing an important lecture or do I rack up 10 parking tickets over a semester at $15.00 a pop and actually get the education I am paying for?

    Since 1998 the students were begging Dr. Applebalum for a parking garage and when Dr. Farahi took over the job I personally saw him be asked by the Greek Council, Student Affairs council, and Graduate student council. All of these requests were ignored. In that time I have seen Kean, Dr Farahi, and the board of trustees Green light the building of Hennings Hall, Harwood Arena, The Center for Academic Success, Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics, Two New Residence Halls, the Green Lane Academic Building(Barnes and Noble Library)

    I also saw renovations to the University Center, Nancy Thompson Library, Kean Hall Administration Building, Vaughn-Eames, East Campus Buildings.

    Oh and just a few years ago while Dr Farahi was worried about Green lighting project that the students would have to pay for with raised tution and never get to use because they would have graduated before they were completed he had time to fight off a resume scandal, almost lose the Universities accreditation, and deal with the James E Dorsey pay for play scandal.

    You know what didn’t happen they didn’t build the garage that Kean badly needs. So maybe you weren’t the one who said what this article states you did but for any of you who read this and wondered if this article makes a valid point let me be the first to say that this article is as accurate as it would have been if it were written 16 years ago maybe even more.