It immediately became noticeable to me during the first week of classes. Parking spaces on campus would be hard to come by for late arrivers, say those folks getting here after 10 a.m. RIT’s continuing growth, in terms of both facilities and students, is really having an impact on the availability of parking, and RIT administrators are moving aggressively to address the problem.
Students who live on campus, including those who reside in campus apartments, are no longer permitted to park in the “academic lots” before 5 p.m. The idea is to limit access to these locations to faculty, staff and off-campus students while attempting to control the level of vehicle traffic on campus.
Unfortunately, many of the residents of the new Park Point development returned to campus not knowing these restrictions would also apply to them. Understandably concerned, some of these residents have become vocal in their opposition, and local media is taking notice.
Yesterday, two TV stations reported on the students’ concerns. University News chose to work with the media on this story, as we normally would, in hopes of shedding light on a bigger issue. Yes, RIT understands and appreciates the students’ point of view, but a growing campus population combined with a limited number of parking spaces has forced the administration to take immediate action.
But it doesn’t end there. RIT has initiated a comprehensive parking and transportation strategy that will play out over a number of years to enhance the overall environment on campus. Sustainability is a key part of that—modifying the campus infrastructure to better accommodate a variety of transit options that will help limit the volume of vehicle traffic.
13WHAM News provided a very balanced observation on the overall parking dilemma we face. I appreciated that its report incorporated more of the university’s long-term focus that I mentioned. News 10NBC? Well, not so much. They combined our situation with similar student concerns at MCC. I get that, but the resulting story came off a bit more like a parking pissing match. No damage done, but no perspective added.
For students of public relations, this is a classic example of “uncontrolled message.” When telling your story, you ultimately leave your fate in the hands of the gatekeepers—the media. They’re not obligated to tell the story as we see it, but they are obligated to provide balance. In almost all cases, they strive to do that. But in trying to tell a story in under two minutes, we in the PR field can only hope for the best.