‘Survivor’ at the C-Verder lot

Jennie Hardenbrook

Students circle the commuter lot daily, struggling for one of the few parking spaces that are available

Cars vie for parking spots in the commuter lot behind Verder Hall mid-morning. DAVID ANTHONY RANUCCI | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

Like a predator circling its unsuspecting prey, a commuter at Kent State circles the C-Verder lot.

“Are you leaving? Are you leaving?” he or she asks. The frustrated student turns around. The look on his or her face tells the commuter all they need to know.

Nonchalantly, the commuter moves on for the next opportunity to pounce on that perfect parking space.

For the Kent State commuter, this isn’t a game — it’s strategic planning.

The Ford Explorer sped up out of nowhere, narrowed in on the cars’ taillights as he entered the parking lot, cutting off the Toyota Camry that had been waiting at least five minutes and took the parking slot as the car pulled out.

“It’s a mad race,” senior crafts major Amanda Brent said. “Some people are courteous and wait in line, other people just cut you off.”

The C-Verder lot is the smallest, closest commuter lot to the academic side of the university. From 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m. it’s the most difficult to get into because of its prime location. A lot can happen in that 45 minutes.

Dave Tierney, senior fine arts sculpture major, said he’s always had problems with parking. He usually arrives 30 minutes before class to find his perfect parking spot. But on other days he parks on University Street just to avoid the hassle of the parking employees. Tierney admitted he parks in the wrong lots often.

“They know my Jeep, so they look for me,” he said.

There were commuters whose continual patrol of the parking lot was like watching a child’s slot car game. The women were the most involved in this pursuit. When the men entered the parking lot, they quickly sped through, then left if there wasn’t a spot.

Senior psychology major Erin Brown arrived 30 to 35 minutes before class. Brown was in active pursuit of a parking spot.

Extremely distracted, she looked up and said, “You sit and wait and try and be a vulture — I see a spot.”

Another student walked onto the parking lot. The sound of engines roared. The commuters were like Mexican jumping beans, all in pursuit of that one parking spot, only to be disappointed when the student exchanged looks with them and moved on. The looks of disappointment and annoyance were painfully obvious, yet the commuters went back to their positions on the lot.

Larry A. Emling, manager of Parking Services, said he understands both sides.

“Our human nature is that you’re going to try to get as close as you can to the building that you’re going to,” he said. “But at the same time, if you know every morning you come in and that lot’s full . why go through the aggravation?”

Emling said there are plenty of alternatives, such as the Music and Speech tiered lot or the lot adjacent to the Michael Schwartz Center. At 10:35 a.m. on any given day, there are at least a dozen empty parking slots.

Jessica Prorock, senior visual communication design major, traveled 35 minutes from North Royalton. She arrived at 10:15 a.m., and her class started at 11 a.m.

“There’s no way I would get a spot by 11 a.m.” she said. “I’ll end up at Music and Speech.”

However, parking there is not an option for Prorock.

“I have to run back here in between classes,” she said. “I have a big laptop to carry.”

The Music and Speech lot had at least a dozen to 20 spaces available. Students had to actively troll and be alert; but they were available. It’s a bit of a walk, and for some, inconvenient, yet it’s centrally located as well.

Parking Services sells 4,500 “commuter any ‘C’ lot” permits, but they only have 2,200 spaces available for parking. As the idle commuters were made aware of these statistics, there was more than gas fumes building up — so was the anger, as the cars continued to line up for the chase.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Brent said. “I understand they want to make a profit, but all this fricking school is about is profit.”

Amy Miller, senior marketing major, usually parks at the Michael Schwartz lot. But, like everyone else, she couldn’t refuse the temptation to park in the best parking lot on campus. She even admitted to cutting someone off.

“Everybody was fighting for it,” she said. The fact that they sell more permits than slots isn’t fair, she said. But Miller was happy about one thing, the new parking lot at Midway.

C-Midway parking lot was due to open in October, but the lot is currently scheduled to open by mid-November. Commuters will have 175 slots available for the taking.

Because of its location and high demand, the lot will turn over three to four times in one day, Emling said. That’s 500-700 students parking there everyday. That means more students constantly driving around, circling like hungry vultures all day just for that prime parking spot.

The Music and Speech lot has 489 parking spaces available all day and is a block away. With the price of gas and one’s dignity, maybe a short walk is not all that bad.

Contact features correspondent Jennie Hardenbrook at [email protected].