Monmouth University is one of the few universities that, for the last 20 years, has given commuters and employees the option to valet park their vehicles for free when parking has been unavailable. While the convenience of dropping your keys off before running to class seems ideal, many students find that it has become a hassle.
The parking issue at Monmouth University is no secret. Whether it is construction, snow covered parking spots, or the commotion of the commuter parking lots when classes let out, students often have a hard time finding a parking spot. Megan Eustice, a senior health studies student, gets to campus extra early just to make sure she can get a spot. “Sometimes I arrive 30 minutes early because I know I have to drive around to look for a spot. Giving myself 30 minutes sometimes isn’t even enough. I am still late to class.”
According to Usnews.com, as of 2014, 58 percent of undergraduate students at the University live off-campus. With over 4,500 undergrads, that means over 2,500 students commute to class on a regular basis. If each student drives in their own vehicle, available parking spots quickly run out. So when given the choice to valet park instead of driving around, many students take advantage.
Junior communication student Colby Mura, is a fan of valet parking when she is in a rush to get to class, but quickly gets frustrated with them. “The biggest problem is when it is time to leave,” she said. “I find my car is either blocked in by cars that haven’t been parked yet or the valet doesn’t keep track of where they parked my car and I find myself aimlessly walking around the parking lot to find it.” This issue is common with many commuters. “And it’s weird that they never had us sign something,” Mura added. “What if something happens to my car? Who is liable?”
Monmouth University Police Chief Bill McElrath explained through an email interview what happens if an accident takes place. “A police report would be taken documenting the damage. Monmouth University requires any valet company we use to carry insurance that would cover damages done to vehicles, property or individuals.”
Valet parking is a perk for commuters when they are late to class due to traffic or other obstacles. Police Chief McElrath believes valeting is a good thing. “The positives are that there are times when there are limited spaces for the amount of cars looking to park, or there are no available spaces in the area where someone would like to park. Valeting allows individuals to leave their vehicles in safe hands during these periods of time when parking can be difficult. I really can’t think of any negatives. Valeting is a necessary service provided by the University during peak times when finding available parking spaces can be hard to come by.”
On Jan. 28 an e-mail went out to Monmouth students addressing the correct protocol when a commuter is blocked in by the valet. “In an effort to assist students when leaving campus when their vehicle is valeted or blocked in, Carcierge Valet has recommended the following:
1) If you need your keys, go to one of the valet stop signs with your ticket. One of the attendants will collect your ticket and hand you your keys.
2) If you find that your car is blocked in, take a picture of the valet ticket on the dashboard of that car with your phone and then go to the valets and show them the picture. This will allow them to get the correct key and move the cars quickly without having to go look at the ticket and then go back to the key box and then back to move the car.”
If your vehicle has been valeted and you are on campus after the attendants have left (currently 6:30 pm), your keys will have been delivered to the attendant in Lot 16, the employee lot next to Plangere and McAllan Halls. This attendant stays until all keys have been returned.”
Undergraduate commuters aren’t the only ones with this problem. Robert Scott, communication professor, has experienced his own issues. “I experienced problems with the previous valet service, but not the new company,” he says. “Last semester they parked my truck on a yellow curb and I was issued a warning from the campus police. In another instance, I was told to park in a different lot and when I went to leave for the day, I found a ticket on my windshield.”
The University has recently switched from Advanced Parking Concept (APC) to Carcierge Valet. McElrath said, “It is our standard University policy that we competitively bid services in order to ensure that we are obtaining services at the lowest cost possible. A Request for Proposals (RFP) for valet parking was sent out in December 2015, and Carcierge Valet was the lowest qualified bidder.”
If a student has a concern about valet services they are encouraged to contact the University Police or email Chief McElrath.
IMAGE TAKEN by Emily Shapiro