A recent decision to move university-owned vehicles from Lincoln Drive to a parking lot on the campus’ west edge has upset some university program employees.
Forty-two parking spots were opened up after Chancellor Rita Cheng made the decision to move some university vehicles to a different parking lot. Some members of Project 12-Ways, a program through the university’s Rehabilitation Institute that helps children in the community with special needs, are concerned the move was not the best decision.
Project 12-Ways is a program involved with the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services and employs students who work with families to treat problems that compromise children’s welfare, according to the program’s website.
Nancy Peck, who works for Project 12-Ways, said the decision to move the vehicles came at a meeting earlier this year between Cheng and university administrators. Peck said it was announced that everyone who uses a university car parked along Lincoln Drive would have to move them to the law school parking lot.
Peck said her department heard Cheng thought the cars were an eyesore and ugly. She said employees in her department think the decision to move the vehicles was made because Lincoln Drive is where the tours for parents and prospective students are held, and Cheng didn’t want the vehicles visible there.
However, Cheng said the decision was made to create more parking spaces.
She said moving the service vehicles out of red and blue decal parking spots freed up 42 spaces.
“There’s no reason why service vehicles should be parked in prime spots,” Cheng said. “We have to put our students and faculty first. We had heard throughout the spring semester from students and staff that they were having difficulty finding places to park. Those 42 parking spaces are going to be really important.”
While the change may help some students and staff find a place to park, Peck, who filed a safety complaint, said it has only made life more difficult for Project 12-Ways.
She said the move to a parking lot far from the program’s offices presents safety issues to the students who use the vehicles for their jobs.
“The students that work for this program were really upset,” Peck said. “They are the ones that have to go to this dark parking lot at night, and they are the ones that are scared. They are being made vulnerable.”
Kristy Shannon, a graduate student in behavior analysis and therapy and Project 12-ways employee, is among the students affected by the move.
“Traveling to the newly designated parking lot takes a lot of time and effort from our staff, sometimes several times in the same day,” she said. “Also, the parking lot in question does not have ample parking or designated spaces.”
Jacob Bush, a graduate student in behavior analysis and therapy and another Project employee, said the move has left him feeling unsafe.
“The placement of these cars to such a secluded area has now left me fearful for my own personal safety as well as the safety of the clients that we work with,” he said.
Kayla Alvis, a second year graduate student in behavior analysis and therapy, works as a graduate assistant at Project 12-Ways and called the changes needless and impractical.
“Valuable time is now wasted by the process of moving our own personal vehicles to the remote lot, searching for a parking spot, and then changing cars in order to drive to a client, all of which is obscenely futile,” she said. “Safety is also a concern as our staff has both early morning and late night clients and the lot is distant and unlit.”