Open parking forum offers solutions


On Sept. 21, University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett and Vice President for Finance and Administration Douglas Vinzant led a forum in Thad Cochran Center Ballroom I to discuss improving student and faculty parking problems.

The hour-long session featured members of the USM community such as Chief Communication Officer Jim Coll, President of SGA Caroline Bradley, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Moser, President Rodney Bennett, Vice President for Finance and Administration Douglas Vinzant
and both undergraduate and graduate students.

“This was a great opportunity and probably the first time we had this much discussion about parking,” Vinzant said. “I think this is the start of us setting up a permanent parking and transit services council with a lot of representation from students as well as faculty and staff. I only see that as a good thing.”

Bradley said students should feel open to discuss the issue.

“I encourage you to spend this hour with an open mind while you can hear what Dr. Vinzant has to say when he is presenting,” Bradley said. “I hope you feel comfortable enough to ask questions and share ideas when the floor is open.”

Vinzant presented 14 slides that explained campus parking obstacles and solutions to students’ concerns. One solution Vinzant pitched was to have a permanent parking and transit that includes access students, faculty and possibly even outsiders to the university.

“I feel really good about the conversation we had tonight and laying the foundation for better communication on an ongoing basis,” Vinzant said.

The parking and transition committee that Vinzant pitched could be effective as soon as this semester and will meet at least twice a semester — once in the beginning and once toward the end.

“Our goal is to respond to your questions in an open transparent way while making sure that we all understand the financial impact of each option for improvement,” Bennett said. “I also anticipate that Dr. Vincent plans to discuss the formation of a parking advisory in the near future.”

For the campus, the addition of a parking and transition committee to add clarity to a situation where students are becoming more and more outspoken on their difficulties on finding a parking spot on campus — whether a commuter, faculty or resident.