Parking in East Campus has been an issue for students and the city alike.
Jordan Hoyt, a graduate assistant at Off-Campus Student Services, said the primary concern is that many MU students living off campus, who do not live in East Campus, park in the streets of the neighborhood to avoid paying for parking permits and meters on campus.
One way to address this issue, Hoyt said, is to implement residential parking by permit only or parking meters in the neighborhood.
“The city has done something similar in the North (Village) Arts District, and it’s been quite successful in terms of getting people who are not supposed to park there to not park there,” Hoyt said. “We haven’t received many complaints (about the policy), but to my knowledge, we don’t have as many students in that neighborhood.”
An estimated 2,500-3,000 students reside in East Campus, Hoyt said.
The Missouri Students Association had been gathering student feedback since Jan. 23 to gauge the student opinion on a potential parking policy.
Of the 453 students who participated in the survey, nearly 66 percent of participants indicated they would be either “very unlikely” or “moderately unlikely” to look for housing in East Campus if they had to pay for a parking permit.
MSA Director of Student Communications Gunnar Johanson said the survey results will help the association shape what its message will be when talking about the parking issue.
“It’s very noticeable that students don’t want to pay more to park in East Campus or to live there,” Johanson said. “The fact that students gave us such strong results in the survey means that they don’t want something like that to happen.”
At this time, however, MSA will remain officially neutral on the East Campus parking debate, Johanson said. If MSA were to take a stance on the issue, it would not be until an official proposal is made by the city to address the issue.
“There has not been a proposal yet,” Johanson said. “Once we see a concrete proposal for what is actually going to happen, (MSA President Mason Schara) and the cabinet are going to shape our message to say whether we are an opponent of it, whether we are for it or whether we are going to be neutral and just inform students about it.”
Johanson added that Schara has been in contact with city officials to discuss the issue and to set up a public meeting.
Schara was unavailable for comment.
Two public meetings were scheduled to take place Feb. 5 and Feb. 27 for all interested parties to voice their opinions and discuss potential solutions. However, both meetings were canceled. It is unclear why the first meeting was canceled, but the second was canceled because of a True/False film screening on the same night, Johanson said.
Another public meeting is scheduled to take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 19 in Conference Rooms 1A and 1B of Columbia City Hall.
MSA members will be attending the meeting to discuss the issue and present student feedback data that was collected. Johanson said students should determine where they stand on the issue and voice their opinions.
“Students should evaluate their positions, especially if they plan to live in East Campus or if they already live there and don’t want an increase to their cost of living,” Johanson said. “(Schara) has a good voice, but nothing is more powerful than students coming into a meeting and telling each of the officials that they don’t want to pay more to live in East Campus.”