Graduation parking frustrates students and local residents

Parking shortages and traffic on graduation day at St. John’s proves to be a headache, not only for students and faculty, but also for residents of the area around campus.

The University is equipped with numerous parking lots and garages in prominent areas across the campus, but in the past few years there has not been enough spaces for graduates and their guests.

Kelly Polamba, a junior, lives on Grand Central Parkway, directly across from campus, and says the parking problem becomes secondary to the traffic problem on the day of graduation.

“Every year the problem gets worse,” said Polamba.  “My house becomes a breeding ground for panicked graduates and impatient parents.”  

Other St. John’s students were more sensitive to the situation.

“Obviously, parking is crazy on graduation. It’s the one day every senior comes to campus and they bring their parents with them,” said Alison Testoni, a senior and Queens resident.

Some felt that it is inevitable because of family members and friends coming from all over.

“I’m graduating this year and my family will be in separate cars because their coming from separate places, so I guess that means I’m only fueling the problem,” said senior Natasha Tockett.

While student residents have their opinions on the parking situation during the graduation ceremony, non-students were not as understanding.

“It’s an obnoxious inconvenience,” said Michael Yurgel, who lives on 167 Street.  “I’ve been living here for seven years and I can’t even leave my house on graduation day.”

Yurgel, 27, said that once the parking lots fill up on campus, family members of the graduates take it upon themselves to park in front of numerous houses, including his own.  Some cars even block the driveways and park so close to each other that Yurgel describes the scene as impossible to escape.

Every year the graduating class grows in numbers, which means the amount of guests for the graduation ceremony increase as well. Every graduate receives four tickets for their family and friends to watch the ceremony.  

While University officials acknowledge that there is a parking issue on graduation day, they also said that they are doing all they can to rectify the situation.

“We could always use extra parking,” said Joseph Smith, a member of St. John’s Public Safety.  “But we make sure that every spot is filled before anyone has to look for parking anywhere else.”

Members of Public Safety start working earlier on graduation day than usual, to assist guests, students, and faculty with finding parking.

Smith said that the University does all it can with the space that is available, but because of magnitude of the day and the event there is going to be more issues than any other day.

“There are a few problems, with people parking in handicapped spots and ignoring the parking policies,” said Smith, “but we are designated to help and we do so as quickly as we can.”