How can we assure ourselves a parking place on campus?

Date: November 2019


Dear Deans,

My fellow graduate students and some staff in our labs pay over $750 a year for access to the parking lots labeled ‘SC’ (the only permit available to us). This academic year, the parking situation has been absolutely untenable; arriving after ~9:30am (or leaving and coming back) makes it impossible to find a parking spot in the Oxley, Crescent, or Kite Hill lots, or any of the other, smaller, unnamed ‘SC’ lots on west campus; that is, anywhere that can be considered even remotely near our places of work.

We have observed recently a number of cars parked along the edge of the Oxley lot (as has been seen since the beginning of term out of necessity) with parking tickets; that students and staff pay nearly $800 to park in the Oxley lot, and received fines for parking in the only spaces available, is unacceptable. We find this ridiculous and would like to be advised on how we can assure ourselves a parking place on this campus if $800 cannot guarantee it.

Taking the bus is not an option for those of us who live in towns\areas that are infrequently serviced by bus routes. We suggest that you do not advise getting a permit in B Lot, unless you are able to revise university policy to include providing TCAT passes to students for their ENTIRE tenure at Cornell, as getting from B Lot to our places of work is over a mile and a half (over half an hour) of walking. Further, we suggest that you do not advise biking/walking unless you revise university policy to increase graduate student stipends to the point where more of us can afford to live within walking distance of campus. Finally, we suggest that you do not advise us to make sure we get to campus earlier and/or do not leave our spots midday, as our experiments/laboratory work frequently require leaving and arriving on campus at non-traditional hours. 


Grad students who would rather be getting work done than driving around looking for parking.


Dear Graduate Students Who Would Rather Be Getting Work Done Than Driving Around Looking for Parking:

Thank you for your question. I consulted with the senior director of Cornell’s Transportation and Delivery Services to better understand the situation and possible options. The Transportation office has been collecting data to determine how better to manage the system, particularly as parking is in a bit of flux currently with the displacements associated with the North Campus residential housing project, and future construction projects will affect other existing parking areas.

SC permits are valid in a number of areas. As you might imagine, and as you have experienced, the SC lots closest to central campus (Oxley and Crescent), and thus closest to your location of Rhodes Hall tend to fill first and early. That’s the case with most on-campus parking – those who arrive early in the “typical” workday secure the most coveted spots. And those who arrive later morning, or need to leave during the day and then return to campus, are most likely to be limited to spaces less coveted. I understand that this is frustrating and annoying to those whose own regular schedules do not fit the “typical” pattern. I experienced this myself on a daily basis earlier in my Cornell career when I needed to leave campus each day to breastfeed my daughters in daycare. Being on a tight schedule, it was frustrating to return to campus mid-day and be able to locate parking only in more remote areas.

In your case, the issue is further complicated because the SC parking area on route 366 which is the closest lot to Rhodes Hall (Oxley Lot), has been limited as of late because of the storage of a large piece of equipment to be installed at the heating plant. This equipment is expected to be removed from the lot in early November. However, in order to move it there will be more space displacement from Nov. 4 – Nov. 6, so you may want to plan more commuting time (walking from parking areas) on those days, or plan to arrive early on campus for closer parking, although I realize you have asked specifically that I don’t give you that advice. Transportation Services expects that moving the equipment early this month should relieve the parking situation for SC permit holders in the long term. As a SC permit holder, you may receive a notice directly from Transportation Services about this situation.   

If it’s helpful for your commuting planning purposes, Transportation Services’ data shows that the SC lots that fill earliest are the Crescent lot, Campus Road lots east of the Crescent, and Morrison South. Their data has shown these lots are at a 75 – 90 percent occupancy rate and at certain times during the day they are at 100 percent. The SC areas that appear (based on the data) to have regular availability most any time are Morrison Hall north and Teaching & Research Barn.  And the SC permits are always valid in the B lot, which as you point out is a substantial walk from Rhodes Hall.

I hope this additional information about Morrison Hall North and the upcoming relocation of the heating plant equipment will help you in the coming weeks.

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Dean of the Graduate School