More students presents parking, other challenges

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 19, 2009

With community college enrollment at an all-time high,Copiah-Lincoln Community College officials said they’re having toworry about some overcrowding – not just from students, but fromtheir vehicles.

“There’s a challenge with parking at all three of our campuses,”said Co-Lin President Dr. Ronnie Nettles. “Typically that’s notuncommon the first week of school.”

But this year it’s a little different, since enrollment is uparound 450 students across the district.

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“I figured we’d have an increase, but I’m surprised with thesignificant amount,” Nettles said, pointing out that it has notonly impacted the parking lots, but also in the living and workingareas.

“There’s a lot of things to think about as far as faculty, spacein the dorms and classrooms, you get to the point where you’remaxed out just in classroom space,” he said.

But the car problem is first and foremost to a lot ofstudents.

Some officials pointed out that at a larger university, studentswould be walking much farther to get to their classes. They saidit’s not that there’s a lack of parking, but that students justaren’t accustomed to having to make a trek.

“It’s not as bad here as it is somewhere else, but that doesn’tmatter to them,” Nettles said. “It’s not always convenient, sowe’re being very lenient as far as where they’re parked rightnow.”

Meanwhile at Southwest Community College, officials said parkingisn’t a full-blown issue. Yet.

“It’s not really a problem for us, but our parking lots arepretty full,” said College President Dr. Oliver Young. “Most of ourstudents commute.”

Southwest currently has an enrollment just over 2,000, anddormitory accommodations for 430 students.

Nettles said currently campus police are putting warning noticeson people’s cars when they’re parked in the wrong place. Facultyparking and handicapped parking are favorites for last-minutestudents, many of whom have reportedly blamed being tardy to classon not being able to find accommodations for their cars.

But the parking problem is on the radar for sure, Nettlessaid.

“We don’t have the luxury of building multimillion-dollarparking garages,” he said. “It’ll settle down, because it’s alwaysdifficult right at first, but we’ll need to look at it longterm.”

Nettles said the parking problem is just another sign thatCo-Lin is growing.

“There are a lot of challenges for us right now – classroomspace, chairs, there are a lot of issues,” he said. “But it’s all agood type of problem to deal with.”