DSU is a growing university. According to statistics shared on the university’s website, there has been a steady increase in enrollment every year since 2020, and as DSU’s programs, athletic facilities, and vision continue to expand, the number of students it attracts will likely continue to follow an upward trajectory. The start of the Fall 2023 semester saw especially large increases, including an 8.3% jump in total enrollment, which means the number of students enrolled is over 3,500 for the first time in the history of the institution.
While this dynamic growth is exciting, it has caused a few issues for students taking classes on campus this semester. The biggest difficulty is parking. For the first several weeks of class, students who had purchased overnight parking passes, as well as commuters, had parking stickers on their windshields but there were no places on campus to park their vehicles. A group of students who spoke to an employee at Heston Hall were told that overselling parking passes is “good business practice,” and their best option was to park on the streets until enough students dropped out to free up parking.
The concern DSU students have with this practice is that when they purchase a parking pass for $70+, they are being sold something that they cannot actually claim. There are more permits than parking spaces on campus for the first several weeks of class, and students who park in the lots in a non-designated spot receive a parking fine. To remedy this injustice, students shared the idea for DSU to sell passes on a first-come-first-serve basis rather than overselling with an expectation of dropouts. This would guarantee a parking spot to everyone who purchased a pass, and students on the waiting list could purchase permits as they became available.
The current parking chaos leads to a question: how is Dakota State University going to expand parking in coming years if enrollment continues to increase? According to Casey TeGrotenhuis, a member of the student senate and Trojan Ambassador, the University has not made public any plans for expanding parking. However, they did recently convert a few parking spaces on the west side of the MadLabs into overnight blue parking spaces, as the blue parking has continued to be limited even six weeks into the semester. Abby Baker, a senior majoring in Cyber Operations and Math, suggested that the parking lot north of the Courtyard dorm could be made into a parking garage with several levels.
The bright side of this problem is that it means that students are thriving at DSU. They are not only coming in droves but staying. Exciting things are on the horizon, and opportunities for DSU students continue to grow. The hope is that the university has plans to remedy the parking shortage so that students can be proud of the way their school takes action when needs arise.