Opinion: Why Sophomores Should Not Park in the Student Lot
Over the past few months, the number of sophomores with driver’s licenses has increased rapidly. This has created many issues regarding where the sophomores can park. Sophomores are generally not allowed on campus parking passes, as it is a privilege reserved for juniors and seniors. Though most sophomores do not have parking passes, many continue to park in the student lots, taking spots that rightfully belong to upperclassmen with passes.
As a licensed sophomore, I understand the annoyance of having to park off campus and walk from streets like Oak Grove Avenue or Ringwood Avenue, where the majority of sophomores park. However, I feel privileged to have the luxury of having my license and a car to drive as a sophomore in high school.
It is well known that in future years M-A’s student population will increase due to district changes. Because of this, administration must deal with the expenses of accommodating new students before expanding student parking. Therefore, sophomores will not be able to park in the student lots unless the parking spaces are expanded.
While there are many options for expanding parking, all are very expensive and are not a priority with the expanding population at M-A. As of now, M-A has very little space, if any, for expansions. Principal Matthew Zito explains that “the school district is likely to go after a $260 million construction and renovation bond.” This bond would give administration the potential option to “purchase an acre parcel on Oak Grove that would allow [administration] to relocate the guidance and administrative and student support offices.” This would allow the current buildings to be used for other purposes. Since the school was built in five different phases, the space on campus wasn’t used efficiently and is now “built out” according to Zito. However, due to population growth in future years, the campus must now be expanded.
While there are a few more options for expanding parking lots, despite the possibility of a grant, the chances of having the financial resources to expand the student parking lot are small. One more dramatic option could be modeled after St. Ignatius High School’s new faculty parking garage under its tennis courts. However this alone cost anywhere from $3-6 million that could be spent on new classrooms or bathrooms, both of which the school needs. Another option could be to buy an acre of land surrounding from one of the surrounding neighbors. However, the cost of the land itself would be $3-4 million for one acre and at least another $6-12 million to develop functional buildings or parking lots, according to Zito. “So even with a large construction bond, we are going to be severely challenged to [make the necessary changes] within the budgets provided. Thus, it is unreasonable for students to expect on campus parking to be a priority.”
To add to the parking dilemma, M-A’s surrounding neighbors have been “unhelpful” regarding where students can and cannot park. Both Menlo Park and Atherton have restricted off-campus parking. There are signs restricting parking up and down Ringwood Avenue, Oak Grove Avenue, and Middlefield Road. Zito adds that some homeowners have decided to place “large boulders in front of their homes” mostly to discourage student parking. Other neighbors have filed complaints and restricted parking on streets including Marcussen Drive across from Nativity Church. The Stanford Research Institute building across the street from M-A used to have an open parking lot, but has recently installed a gate. This restriction of parking surrounding M-A forces students to park farther away from campus than would be desirable. This has led students to complain unfairly to the administration. Zito and the other members of administration cannot control these restrictions, and they should not be blamed.
As previously stated, I understand the annoyance of this walk, especially at 6:00 PM after sports practice, however we sophomores need to recognize and value how lucky we are to be able to drive cars to school everyday. Furthermore, we need to understand that parking in the student lot is not a right; it is a privilege. While getting an education is a right, parking on campus is not. It should be reserved for juniors and seniors who have waited 2-3 years and paid for their passes. Sophomores who are currently parking in the student lot should revise their decision as it is negatively impacting both administration and upperclassmen.
To solve this issue, I believe that sophomores should understand that parking on campus is not a priority for district funding. We should realize that it is not currently possible for administration to allow us to park on campus. While it is frustrating, we should respect the upperclassmen by parking off campus. I think that we should also acknowledge how privileged we are to have the opportunities and education that M-A provides.