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Parking Pass Problems: Why the Parking System Needs Work

Rather than waking up to the alarms I set for 3, 3:30 and 4 a.m., I woke up to my mother’s blaring voice screaming: “Annabelle it’s 7:30, what is going on!?” 


My parking spot — the coveted, into-the-school-in-two-steps-spot — is probably gone. 

I can’t arrive at 7 a.m. just to park at the back of the senior lot every day. And Delmar is definitely out of the picture — there’s no way I’m reliving freshman and sophomore year all over again. I’m finally an upperclassman,  don’t I deserve this?

A spot in the junior lot, or senior lot if we were lucky, was all that had mattered to me and the two friends I set the alarms with. A spot that was accessible amid cold Prairie Village winters. Not even the perfect spot, just a spot. Any spot so we could sleep every morning in the school year until 6:50 and arrive two minutes before the bell. No more worrying about whether or not we would miss the last spot in the sophomore lot and get stuck on Delmar treading through the mud and ice on the soccer field.

So yeah, I slept through an hour of alarms on one of the most important days to a junior in high school: the day we got our reserved parking passes. Granted — this is my fault and no one is to blame but myself and my quiet ringtone. But let’s say I hadn’t slept on through an hours worth of alarms.

My friends and I would have gotten up around 4:30 a.m. to arrive in the sophomore lot since it’s technically not school property — the rules on camping out have been altered this year. We would chug some hazelnut coffee, then open our eyes to the hundreds of sleep-deprived juniors who would already be there in a huddle, pushing and shoving to get the first spot. 

Haney would have walked up and passed out blue numbered slips that hold your place in line, but the short stack of slips would run out, leaving hundreds of juniors without a place in line or without a place in the lot. 

There were around 200 blue slips handed out to the 438 juniors in my class — give or take a few. That’s 238 students left without a guaranteed parking spot for the rest of the year. Can Delmar even hold that many cars? 

The number of junior spots were so limited because the whole senior class snagged their parking passes online last school year during a seminar in May. Every senior who needed or wanted a spot could get one. 

The problem with this system — seniors online and juniors in person — is that for seniors, a spot was assured with just a click and good internet connection. For juniors, we had to sacrifice sleep and sanity in the middle of the summer and line up for it. Juniors had to want it.

The process needs to be one or the other due to the limited number of parking spots at Shawnee Mission East. Anyone who is willing to wake up at 5 a.m. on a summer morning should get a spot — no matter their age. 

When my friends and I had arrived at 7:45, we found out the blue slips had been gone for an hour and 42 minutes. We continued, with hope, to put our names on a 93 person waiting list, which Haney told us meant we had just about a zero percent chance of getting a spot.

Juniors who showed up only minutes late were doing everything they could to get a blue slip. Someone was out of town so their mom got there at 6 a.m. for them — they didn’t get a spot. 

I tried to bribe Haney, which obviously didn’t work, and then finally convinced two juniors boys to sell my friend and I their spots in line for $250 each. In other words, nearly half of what I own. That’s 50 Starbucks drinks I won’t be able to buy…  

There can be a consensus. Administration and class representatives can meet and find a solution so that both the junior and senior classes have to take the same course of action to get a parking spot. Whether that be we all line up on a summer morning — seniors go first in line, obviously — or we all do it on a website. Either way, no student should have to pay $250 for a spot just because the odds were unjust. 

The seniors get to leave for lunch or be late to their classes. They ‘get’ senior skip day, and the pride and spirit that comes with your last year of being a Lancer. Easier classes, for some, and the front of the parking lot reserved for them from the get-go. But for something as crucial as whether or not your parent will have to be late to work to drop you off at school, every upperclassman should have fair game. 

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