With reduced campus parking options, can students park at Hillel?

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By Jacob Schaperow, Editor-in-chief, @jschap1

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For those of you who know me, you know that I am not much of a rule-breaker.

So when I got my first parking ticket from the Department of Transportation Services last summer, it should be no surprise that I didn’t mean to park illegally. I assumed the space in Lot O1 was free because it was during summer classes. I got my second ticket while parked in a metered space for which I thought I had paid. University parking can be hard to figure out, and if you misstep, you can expect a swift parking violation.

Though its rules are not enforced as vigilantly as DOTS’, Hillel parking can be just as confusing.

During a busy lunch hour, the lot in front of the Rosenbloom Hillel Center on Mowatt Lane fills up to 150 percent capacity, with cars double and triple parked. At the same time, it is often empty on weekends, as few people are driving in and out on Shabbat. So when is it permissible to park at Hillel?

The parking lot in front of Hillel has fewer than 10 spaces, yet 16 cars crammed together is a common sight on during busy weekday lunches. Photo courtesy of Maiya Chard-Yaron.

The parking lot in front of Hillel has fewer than 10 spaces, yet 16 cars crammed together is a common sight on during busy weekday lunches. Photo courtesy of Maiya Chard-Yaron.

“Only if you’re actually here can you park here,” said Allison Buchman, Maryland Hillel Director of Operations.

The free lot is open to students, staff and visitors during the week. But you can’t park your car at Hillel if you’re planning to go to another campus building instead. If Hillel staff members cannot find the owner of a car left in the Hillel lot, they may either boot the vehicle or have it towed. If your vehicle is booted, talk to the Hillel staff and they’ll unlock the boot for a fee, Buchman said.

Buchman advises students visiting for the weekend to park in Lot 1 because it is free after 4 p.m. during the week and free on weekends. It may also be OK to park at Hillel over the weekend, she said, as long as people approach her beforehand.

It’s not uncommon for somebody to interrupt lunch in the Hillel cafeteria to ask, “Would the owner of so-and-so car please move it so he or she can get out of the lot?” The full lot inconveniences students coming to and from meals at Hillel and could even be a safety concern. The intense maneuvering required to get cars in and out of the lot is a safety concern as well. There is a lot of pedestrian traffic concurrent with a full parking lot. Formal regulation of Hillel parking could alleviate some of the problems with the small lot. Parking registration or a Hillel parking sign-in sheet are two possible solutions.

Does it irk you that the Hillel parking lot gets so overcrowded on Buffalo Chicken Wednesdays that it resembles the traffic jam board game “Rush Hour”? Do you have ideas for how this problem could be addressed? Write a letter to the Mitzpeh to have your voice heard.

Jacob Schaperow is a junior civil engineering – environmental and water resources major. He can be reached at jacob.schaperow@gmail.com.

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