Westwood Parking Needs to be Easier and More Accessible


Hadley Norris

The Sundancers use the parking lot for practices in the morning. Students have needed a better solution to this problem for a while. Photo courtesy of Hadley Norris.

Parking shouldn’t be something students are thinking about when they leave for school. Especially returning from a year of virtual learning, students just want normalcy. However, amidst the construction, the new procedures and a large student population that drives shows how flawed the parking system is.

“We left really early just to get a parking spot with 30 minutes to spare,” Dana Kardonik ‘24 said. “We were just sitting around instead of using that time to get more sleep.”

Kardonik was one of the few on time, but parking was nearly impossible for those who weren’t, especially with a whole lot blocked off. The school made clear the consequences for parking in the wrong area but didn’t make clear where you could park on the first day of school, meaning warning stickers coated rows of windows.
Students and teachers have to get creative because arriving early doesn’t solve the problem. Several activities such as dance teams and football take up most of the accessible parking, and if you have first period as an off block, there’s no way you can park close to the school.

“I have an off block for first period,” Abbigail White ‘23 said. “This makes parking almost impossible. It’s a part of my day I don’t look forward to.”

Limited parking means people are warier of leaving for off-campus lunches. Once your spot is taken, there is only so much you can do. Doctor’s appointments, arriving late for any reason, and having an off block makes it difficult to go to school.

To make parking easier, there is always the option of reserved spaces but they are expensive. Students have to pay for parking in some capacity or another, both reserved and normal. If you park illegally or in the wrong area, you have to pay money. If you can’t go to school because of parking, you have to pay more money. If students always have to adapt their schedules in order to go to school, they shouldn’t have to pay for parking.
On Tuesday, Sept. 14, my sister and I arrived at 8:30 A.M. to look for a parking space. The band lot was blocked off due to several teams using it to practice. Usually, when Sundancers practice on Fridays, they take up half of the parking. We don’t have enough space for teams to practice simultaneously while students are trying to go to school. As a result, we were left to drive around, wasting the money we had spent on parking. We eventually parked in the tennis parking lot. We took up the last space and noticed that several other students were not as lucky, putting them in an impossible situation. We try to take it day by day but ultimately, the school needs to find a more permanent solution. The band lot eventually opened up, and we moved our car during lunch, but this took time out of eating and socializing, a rarity in our days.

There has to be a way to include everyone in parking, whether you have an appointment or if there’s traffic. Students are already stressed out enough by the school and do not need the extra parking burden.
“Due to this problem I’m not getting home at the time I’m supposed to,” Sanika Purohit ‘24 said. “Students take [Advanced Placement] classes, need time for homework, and have after-school activities. Time is important to them.”

Most students I talked to were unsure what had to change to fix the issue.

“It needs to be restructured somehow because it’s all over the place,” Akaash Khurana ‘22 said. “I don’t know if there’s a way to fix it but they should. There’s just not enough space.”

Other students kept a general theme to the solutions they thought would work.

“There are so many [spaces] that are not being used,” White said. “Behind the back of the building, where the old portables used to be, they should make that a parking lot.”

The main reason for the parking problem is due to how the space is being used. Construction this year has led to changes on campus, some affecting students for the better and others causing unnecessary challenges. There’s a large section of the parking lot taken up by construction supplies. If we condense or move supplies, it will clear up many parking spaces for students. Additionally, traffic in the morning as students come into the school could be solved by not blocking off entrances that students could be using.

“Buses and cars are in the same lane making them get stuck,” Purohit said. “I think the solution is to make two different exits for buses and cars to limit traffic.”

Restrictions on student’s parking are fine to keep parking orderly, but they aren’t effective or clear. We need to have an area blocked off for parking instead of the student guessing where the many teams will practice next.
“I think the solution is roping off some parking spots until a certain time while still allowing available parking for kids in sports,” Molly Harvey ‘24 said. “For example, roping off the blacktop until 8:45.”

The reserved parking is for students with $250 to spend, so they don’t have to worry about whether they’re in the right parking lot or if someone will steal their spot if they go off-campus. The question is whether this is fair to students who don’t have those same resources. Westwood’s purpose is to educate its students, not to use parking as fundraising.

Two students argued about what the reason was for the parking mess in the first place.

“It’s because people haven’t been on campus in a while, I blame the disorganization on Covid,” Purohit said.

Kardonik disagreed, saying that according to her older sister, there has always been chaos.

“This happens every year,” Kardonik said. “The lack of parking and traffic in the morning isn’t due to Covid, the problem just hasn’t gone away.”

Westwood needs to find creative outlets for parking to meet the needs of its students. This means using the parking lots more effectively, so it accommodates lunches, lateness, or off blocks. Teams should block off where they are going to practice so that everyone has the same expectations going into school. Students could use the parking spaces that are currently being used for construction supplies, and the school could change the many restrictions that they have implemented. Going back to normalcy and a stress-free environment is essential so that students can focus on their education and not where they are going to park that day.