Parking Trouble: Real or No-Big-Deal?

A New School Year Lends a Parking Challenge to O’Dowd Seniors


Construction over the old dirt parking lot.

Miles Brockbank, Contributor

The unveiling of the brand-new Cummins Center this year has introduced quite a few notable extensions of campus services, from three new classrooms to a gymnasium, weight and locker rooms. However, the new year was not free of challenges, one of which some seniors on campus have deemed a “parking crisis.” 

Many complain that there is a lack of parking available for students on campus this year. Compared to the previous year, which included regular, paved spots, an additional dirt lot, and a free-use lower lot by the living lab, the parking situation this year shifted drastically. The dirt lot next to the previously unfinished Cummins Center has been removed with its completion. Additionally, parking passes, accessible by lottery just like those necessary for the on-campus spots, are now necessary to park in the lower parking lot by the living lab, as opposed to last year, in which the space was a first-come-first-serve parking area and open to all grade levels.  

According to official school data, there were 80 spots available for seniors on campus in the years preceding the 2022-2023 school year, but this fall, there are 25. This severe decrease in parking space can be traced to a multitude of factors, from increased staff, who get priority parking, to the location of the Cummins Center itself. To specify, the center was built in place of the lower on-campus lot, and the dirt lot allocated to replacing that lost parking last year has been transformed back into a construction zone.

Emma Santa Cruz, senior, shares her circumstances, “Having a parking spot on campus was essential to my family this year because my single mother is away a lot of the time. Without the spot, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to attend classes at O’Dowd as I had no other mode of transportation.” Emma also expresses her view on the situation as a whole, “It is very important that every student has a parking spot because every family has a different situation.” 

Some students weren’t lucky like Emma, however. Rhett Turner, senior, explains his challenge this year: “Not having a spot can be irritating at times, because I have to actively seek out parking and walk up a hill to get to school. Also, because I don’t have a parking spot, there is a chance my car could get broken into.” Rhett is not alone in expressing his concern for the safety of his car. Another senior, Leo Schwenk, got his license plate stolen while his car was parked off campus.

However, the administration has worked with particular students who did not win the parking lottery in order to figure out solutions and ensure everyone can attend school without underlying stress related to parking. Some seniors in especially difficult positions, who did not win the parking lottery, have been given access to parking spaces in the lower lot by the living lab. Nonetheless, students are forced to adjust to the altered parking conditions and overcome this new inconvenience.