In our rapidly changing world, the most mundane problems often get drowned out by the cacophony of conflicts. Nowhere is this truer than Taft, where the community chooses to address one-off issues while leaving chronic maladies untouched. Perhaps the most conflictual recurring problem on campus is that of parking. Everyone has seen the chaos on parents’ weekends and sporting events, but the everyday struggle to find a parking spot often causes conflict between members of the community who do not respect Taft’s guidelines (which are not equally enforced themselves).
The faculty at Taft is territorial—even tribal at times—about parking. I’ll never forget the day that one particular member of Taft’s faculty called me out and reprimanded for parking somewhere I wasn’t supposed to during preseason. This happened in front of my new boy and his entire family. It was humiliating to be hung out to dry for a rule that I simply was not aware of. Even worse, she and I both know full well that countless teachers break the parking guidelines every day. What I’m getting at here is not about my own experiences, but rather the system that created them. Taft makes all these guidelines about driving and parking—which I fully acknowledge as a privilege that can be taken away—but fails to enforce them consistently across all members of the Taft community. Many teachers have personally admitted to me that they knowingly park in places where they aren’t allowed daily because they know that no one will say anything; meanwhile, day students are held to an unfairly enforced standard.
For day students, the lack of parking is exacerbated by unsafe conditions while crossing Watertown Road every day. Many students have been harassed by drivers yelling profanities and misogynistic slurs while crossing the road late at night. Many students have nearly been hit by drivers recklessly turning from Watertown Road onto Middlebury Road, despite the “No Turn on Red” signage. More still have been affected by the often-malfunctioning pedestrian crossing signal, which seems to be conveniently out of order whenever there is precipitation. Students have reported these issues to the administration and campus safety numerous times but to no real avail. The only present solution is that students can now have security escort them across the road to the day student parking lot upon request. Even this, however, is not something that students can reasonably take advantage of. Doing so on a regular basis adds an unreasonable amount of time to get home, as the escort itself is not worth the time spent organizing logistics to be accompanied across the street.
I’m not saying that day students should be allowed to park on campus without regulation, but I am saying that it is altogether pointless to make rules for the entire community if they aren’t enforced across the board. Throughout February, while parking on campus is in highest demand, I collected data on the availability of parking spots across campus. I surveyed campus between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm and counted how many spaces were available, excluding the main circle. The areas included Voge, the Headmasters Circle vicinity (but not the actual circle), near Mac House, and the Rock and its surrounding area. I found that on average, fifteen spaces were available (excluding main circle). Counting Main Circle, twenty spaces were typically open.
What I’m proposing is not a radical change, given the amount of open parking on a daily basis. In my mind, the ideal policy would be as follows: allow each residential faculty member to park one car on campus, with any additional cars parked in the parking lot across the street. All remaining spaces (excluding Main Circle) should be first-come-first-serve. The sentiments of many day students are that Taft should start enforcing the rules equally, or just not have them at all
I know that this article will likely go unaddressed—but to me and many other day students, it’s frustrating to see the daily hypocrisy inherent in Taft’s enforcement of parking regulations, especially when it results in some students feeling physically unsafe. At least now we can say that we’ve tried.