Students concerned about safety in the garage

Stacey Franciamore, Managing Editor

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With Iona’s large commuter population, the parking garage near the Hynes Athletic Center is an essential space for those who drive to campus.

“As a commuter student, parking is important,”Timothy Thomas, a commuter from New Rochelle, said.

To ensure the safety of students and their vehicles, parking and traffic regulations are administered, but that doesn’t mean they’re always followed.

After an accident that occurred on Sept. 20 where a student was speeding and hit two parked cars, students are showing concern for their safety in the parking garage.

“I always feel wary in the garage,” Kerrianne Barnette, a commuter from Rockland County, said. “I avoid parking there at all costs actually.”

Barnette said that she stopped parking in the garage after she almost got into an accident.

“When I came to shadow as a student last year before I committed to Iona, I parked in the garage,” Barnette said. “When I pulled out to go home, a student sped past me and caused me to get nervous and hit one of the yellow poles. I felt completely unsafe having my car in the garage and due to that started parking elsewhere.”

Not only do commuters park their cars in the parking garage, but so do faculty, staff and residents who have cars on campus. Thomas Mortensen, a resident on campus, parks his car in the parking garage.

“I feel worried about my safety in the parking garage and leaving my car there,” Mortensen said. “Students drive too fast and that is a big safety hazard.”

According to Mortensen, parking in the street is safer than parking in the garage.

“Drivers at Iona have zero parking skills or awareness,” Mortensen said. “I never park in the big lot because it’s so congested and an accident is waiting to happen, especially with all this new construction going on. Everyone is either in a hurry or distracted by someone or something.”

Director of Campus Safety Adrian Navarette shared that people are usually apprehensive about parking garages.

“It’s worth noting that parking garages have always had a bad reputation despite a lack of data that points to them as a common location for crimes,” Navarette said. “We recognize that they make people feel uneasy; I am happy to report that we have had no real issues in our parking garage prior to this recent accident. Fortunately, no one was hurt.”

Campus Safety has been proactive in addressing concerns about the parking garage. Last year Campus Safety fixed the lighting in the parking garage and installed cameras, according to Navarette.

“We try to address any concerns brought up by students or employees,” Navarette said. “We listen, evaluate and respond. This can lead to new security protocols or a further discussion on what can be done or not be done and the reasons why. Open, honest dialogue is always good.”

Assistant Vice Provost for Student Services Michele-Nelson Sampson stated that the college has taken steps toward monitoring dangerous driving.

“The College also has added more speed bumps to encourage drivers on campus – including vendors, staff and faculty – to drive at appropriate speeds,” Sampson said.

Students can also act by raising awareness about safe driving on campus. Sampson suggested that clubs on campus can get on board with a student-led awareness campaign.

“The commuter assistants work out of my office, and they can certainly help raise awareness via social media and other efforts. I will, of course, continue to try to remind all new students as they enter the Iona community about our expectations of them,” Sampson said.

Dangerous driving at Iona isn’t taken lightly. Navarette emphasized that students who are caught driving dangerously on campus can face serious consequences.

“There will be discipline to include a fine and, if necessary, revocation of their on-campus parking privilege,” Navarette said. “Additional consequences as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct may result for repeat offenders and/or more egregious acts of misconduct. Once we revoke a student’s parking privileges, their vehicle will be subject to booting or towing if found on campus.”

With safe driving being a priority for students, Navarette discussed how Campus Safety will continue taking measures to help ensure students feel safe.

“We will continue to monitor and take necessary action on violators up to revoking their parking permits,” Navarette said. “We also encourage campus members who may witness unsafe driving to report the license number or make/model immediately to Campus Safety.”