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Lack of parking causes frustration, confusion

Many students are not happy with the parking situation at St. Olaf this fall. Students — a large portion of whom are upperclassmen — have found themselves on a waitlist for parking and have not been able to purchase a parking pass. 

 Derek Kruse, the new Director of Public Safety, offered his thoughts on the parking situation. Kruse worked for 12 years as a police officer in multiple different units, most recently as a community engagement specialist working on a pilot program where a mental health specialist rode with him. He said that he loves to work with students and hopes to establish a respectful partnership between students and public safety and change the reputation of public safety at St. Olaf.

When asked about the parking policy changes, he explained he worked closely with multiple groups including Residential Life, the Parking Office, the Student Activities Office, and Facilities to try and understand the best possible adjustments he could make to accommodate staff and students with their parking needs. 

When asked about the waitlist and the frustration with the lack of parking from students, Kruse said, “We simply don’t have enough parking.” There are more students with cars that want a parking pass then there are spots available, and this is what is leading to the frustration.

Two new residence halls were built this year, but substantial additional parking space was not a part of this project. And while there used to be a bus that regularly brought students to the Twin Cities, it was canceled when the pandemic began. This has created a difficult lack of options for students who want or need to leave the Northfield area. 

“Parking is a premium here,” Kruse said, adding that everyone who did not get a parking pass applied towards the end of the summer.

Kruse said that the response from staff and students who need to commute or have accessibility issues have appreciated the changes. And for students who are still on the waiting list, Kruse said that this fall is a pilot program for parking and he hopes to continue to make adjustments to best accommodate the most people as possible. Until then, students may be out of luck, because there simply is not enough space at St. Olaf for all of the students to park.

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