By Anna-Grace Rowland
Multiple focus groups consisting of York College of Pennsylvania commuter students were held last semester in September by members of the Public Relations Research class as part of a class-wide initiative to discover the opinions of commuter students at YCP and how their experiences could improve.
The goal of these 30-minute focus groups was to reveal the YCP
experience from the commuter point of view and hear what they had to say.
The participants were first asked why they chose YCP and why they chose to commute and if that was a contributing factor to choosing YCP. They were then asked how far their commute is and about how much time they spend on campus outside of class.
The style of the focus groups were very casual to let the participants feel comfortable to have open dialogue about the topics up for discussion. The participants were asked about the benefits and drawbacks of commuting. This prompted the most conversation between the students who felt that the biggest disadvantage in being a commuter student is the parking.
At YCP, students who live within a 35-mile radius of the campus and reside at their legal residence or are over the age of 22, are eligible to be considered as commuter students as taken from the YCP website. The website also says roughly one third of YCP students are commuters.
All the participants seemed frustrated about the parking lots offered to the commuter students and they all overwhelmingly agreed that it is often difficult to find a spot. One participant mentioned the frustration of “having to try the upper deck, try the lower deck, trying the one across the creek.”
It should be stated here, too, that anecdotal response from students who reside at York College offers similar sentiments about the lack of parking.
We asked the students’ opinion of the price of commuter parking passes and how the school could enhance parking on campus. One student said in response, “I wouldn’t mind paying more for a parking spot if I had a guaranteed place to park every time I come to campus.”
It seemed that the students not having a guaranteed place to park, as well as the limited availability of parking to begin with, was the participant’s most recurring complaint when asked about the drawbacks of commuting.
One of the questions asked during the focus group was, “Do you think the parking available on campus is sufficient for commuter students? And if not, why?”
One student replied, “I’d say the flooding and the lack of parking, because I feel like York is like a pretty big commuter campus. And so you would think that they would have more parking, but they don’t. So I always have to like come significantly before my classes, like 20 minutes before, so I can find parking. And then also, like they know that it floods and the school’s been around for a while now. So if you know that it floods, why don’t you come up with a way to fix that?”
These focus groups prompted an interview with the Director of Campus Safety to see if the department felt that the parking was a dilemma for commuter students as well. In response to the student’s specific comment about parking, it was said that the office knows about the flooding but it is not as simple of a fix as it might seem. There are plenty of permits and permissions that must be granted in order to do anything about the creek flooding. Diverting the creek does not follow EPA standards at the end of the day.
Campus Safety was asked in the interview, “How many parking lots / spaces are available for commuter students? And has this changed in relation to the number of commuter students?”
They replied that there are 822 parking spaces in total available for commuter students, and that they took away about 70 spaces for commuter students near the softball field because the students were parking there very rarely.
Campus Safety also recognized the fact that the parking lots for commuter students might not be the most convenient, especially the commuter lot on West Campus; however, the commuter students chose to commute and they should know how much time is necessary to get to campus in time to find suitable parking, the department said.
Over the past five years, enrollment within commuter students has stayed relatively consistent, with 2021 being slightly less than previous years. Enrollment within graduate students has actually increased over the past five years.
The following statistics were provided by the Business Office as well as Campus Safety.
The number of full-time commuters attending YCP are as follows:
The number of part-time commuters attending YCP are as follows:
The number of graduate-level students attending YCP (not included above) are as follows:
Overall, it seems that commuter students feel slightly frustrated with the current parking situation offered at YCP. One possible solution that was mentioned during the focus group discussion was raising the parking pass prices for commuter students to guarantee a parking spot when coming to campus.
According to the website, commuter parking passes cost $25 and residential parking passes are $50.