Many students choose to live on campus at FGCU, but those living In North Lake Village are experiencing a major inconvenience during basketball season.
“After appearing in the Sweet 16 of the 2013 NCAA Tournament,” Coordinator of University Communications & Media Relations Pamela McCabe said. “FGCU enacted a game-day parking plan to help address the growing demand for parking for men’s basketball home games.”
While the game day parking plan helps to ensure game attendees have a parking spot near Alico Arena, students living in impacted North Lake buildings are being forced to move their cars to another North Lake Village lot, or to Garage 1.
“It is frustrating,” Sophmore Maria Sotomayor said. “As a female, I do not feel safe walking from Garage 1 to my room in the dark.”
Sotomayor is just one of many frustrated students living in North Lake Village. There are campus resources that are meant to keep students safe, like the RAVE Guardian app, a free app that provides two-way communication with University Police Dispatch.
The UPD regularly patrols buildings and parking lots and offers escort rides from cars, dorms, or academic buildings by UPD staff. These escorts are available during the evening hours or night-time hours on campus by calling 239-590-1900.Sotomayor doesn’t think these efforts are enough and says there should be more done to encourage the safety of all individuals around campus.
“UPD is not always responsive,” stated Sotomayor. “The blue towers around North Lake do not seem to work either because the light is never on. It makes others like myself feel uncomfortable.”
Residents are required to move their cars out of the impacted areas in North Lake three hours before the game begins. There is postage around North Lake Village including in every dorm room on the fridge and on the Resident Assistant’s bulletin board. It is well communicated to students when games are and the days their cars must be moved.
“Residential students who haven’t moved out of the impacted areas at least three hours prior to one of the scheduled home games are subject to parking enforcement and citation,” McCabe said. “The university communicated affected dated and times to North Lake Village residents.”
Students like Sotomayor aren’t happy with this parking plan and want to see it changed. She suggested that FGCU provide shuttle transportation for students who are in the impacted areas, so they feel safer walking across campus to and from their dorm or car. She also wants to see more police presence in the area.
“Because FGCU men’s basketball games are open to the general public, anyone can come to campus and walk around,” Sotomayor said. “If there was a presence of UPD surrounding the areas where we walk, it would make me feel more comfortable walking across campus.”
Currently, the university has no plans to expand the parking options for students living in North Lake Village. Other universities and colleges around the country also have similar practices in place for game day when parking is limited.
“Because game-day attendance at men’s basketball home games often exceeds the available parking spaces near Alico arena, FGCU’s parking plan calls up the use of about 300 parking spots in the nearby North Lake Village housing complex,” McCabe said. “Residential students do not have assigned parking spots, but those who park in the affected area in North Lake Village need to move their vehicle.”
Due to Sotomayor’s growing frustration, she decided to start a petition to find a better solution and encourage the safety of FGCU students. As of December 9, 2021, the petition has 71 signatures from students who are directly impacted and concerned parents of students living in North Lake Village.
“My peers and I are upset about this for many reasons,” Sotomayor said. “Many of my peers have brought up the point that if any of us were to have an emergence of any kind, we wouldn’t be able to get to our cars in a timely manner. It is also just plain inconvenient for residents to walk such a long distance to their cars when they have other obligations to attend like a job.”
Sotomayor is asking for students to sign the petition to help encourage FGCU to make a difference in the parking on campus in North Lake Village. McCabe was able to confirm that FGCU is aware of the petition but had no further comment.
“In the end, us as students have every right to be upset about this situation. Especially considering the fact that we all pay several thousands of dollars to study and live here, we have a right to park in front of our residences.”