From the 3rd of July, students from a number of ANU residential halls and colleges will lose parking spaces. ANU media states this is being done to “utilise parking spaces more efficiently”, however, students from these halls have concerns about safety and accessibility. Woroni investigates student concerns, and sits down with the Interhall Council to discuss their counterproposal.

On the 8th of March, ANU residential halls and colleges, including Burgmann, Burton & Garran, Ursula, John XXIII, Bruce and Wright, received an email from the ANU parking office, stating its intention to deallocate parking spaces, as outlined below:

DDPS refers to Designated Permit Parking Spaces. In total 163 parking spaces have been lost between the 6 residential colleges.

These proposed changes will mean residential parking will be mostly contained within the Dickson Precinct Parking Station. Parking allocations will be on a first-come-first-served basis and returning residents will no longer be guaranteed a parking space. ANU parking is already under pressure with pre-existing student complaints about lack of available parking.

The first-come-first-serve premise of the new scheme has led to students feeling worried about accessibility. ANU’s Disability Action Plan commits the University “to achieving best practice in equity of access, inclusion and success for people with disability.” When asked what accommodations the ANU would make for students with accessibility needs, ANU media replied “Accessible parking is available at or near each residence. Any concerns over accessibility of parking should be raised with the relevant head of Hall/College, so it can be taken into consideration.”

This approach to accessibility was also applied to the lockout fee proposal and some students have described it as needing an Education Access Plan to live at college. Students expressed concerns over further disadvantages and obstacles to accessibility.

The second major concern voiced by students in the feedback survey was that of safety.  Some students feel unsafe walking from the Dickson Parking Station to their halls, which ranges from a 3-15 minute walk. ANU Media acknowledged that, “the safety of all ANU students is a top priority. Unisafe provides 24/7 safety escorts on foot or by vehicle. The ANUOK app provides alternative safety tools.”

B*, is a first year student from Bruce hall and often works the late shifts at KFC, returning to ANU after 10pm. She states that the walk from Dickson Parking Station would take her “over ten minutes.” She also states that it would be “a major inconvenience to request an escort every time she came back from work.” Furthermore, the feedback survey shows some students were unsure about trusting escorts.

Woroni reviewed the ANUOK app to see if it is viable for students. Useful features included

a Call For an Escort function, the ability to call ANU security or 000, and a siren sound feature. An ANU spokesperson also emphasised its Virtual Walk Home Feature which sends the user’s location to ANU security and allows ANU security to track the user until they arrive home.

However, limitations of this include the necessity of wifi/data, functioning location services and waiting time for UniSafe Staff. The feature was also power intensive and required sufficient phone battery.

The Interhall Council (IHC) has recognised the negative feedback from residents on the proposed changes and has created a counter-proposal. Oliver Byrne (he/him), President of Burgmann Hall, and a member of the IHC, believes that it is an “incredulous idea [to have] students need to be escorted to carspots.” He also raised concerns with ANU marketing which advertises ANU as an “ideal university for regional students”, when current parking changes will heavily affect regional students.

Accordingly, the IHC requests a delay to any changes by six months. The IHC believes that students will need time to rearrange their transport plans and acquire the necessary permits. Wishing to help the ANU find a long-term solution, the council has recommended an additional resident flexible permit. This would allow residents to park in permit spaces on a first come first serve basis and would be in addition to allocated parks.

A spokesperson for the ANU confirmed that the ANU is open to feedback, emphasising “Resident feedback will inform the final shape of the proposed changes.” With such a student backlash, it is unclear what the future parking system will look like, and to what extent it will address student concerns.

*Not the person’s real name

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