SGA members make changed geared toward non-residents

UNC Asheville offers its non-resident students something other than a parking deficit.

“I campaigned on improving commuter representation within the university and being a platform for their concerns to be enacted upon,” sophomore Sen. Paola Salas Paredes said.

The UNCA Student Government Association emphasizes the importance of taking care of its non-resident students.

“Once school started back up, I realized that commuters spend on average eight hours a day on campus and don’t really have a place to unwind between classes,” Paredes said.

Several non-residents said they live so far off campus, they can’t return home during the breaks between classes.

“I spoke with Sen. (Rachel) Collman on how we could address this issue, and we came up with the commuter nap space,” Paredes said. “Additionally, I had a commuter student, Benny Schmid, write up a Student Contact Report asking SGA to provide such a space.”

The new commuter nap space, located on the third floor of the Highsmith Student Union, was converted from the old commuter lounge.

“It made sense to rearrange the semi-closed room so that more nap-friendly couches were in a quieter space,” Sen. Rachel Collman said.

Alex Stewart, a non-resident senior from Hendersonville, is a perfect candidate for the commuter nap space.

“I’m on campus between six and eight hours a day this semester,” Stewart said. “I’m graduating in December, so my days are exceptionally long.”

Stewart admits she would lay down the back seat of her car and take naps between classes.

“I didn’t think about it until later, but I was honestly afraid that somebody would park next to me and think that I was a dead body half wrapped up in a blanket in the back of my car,” Stewart said. “I can only imagine what campus police would think when they came around to check parking passes.”

Stewart did not know there was a nap space available for commuters.

“I had no idea they were planning on creating a space for non-resident students to nap during the day,” Steward said. “That’s a great idea. I just wish that I had known about it.”

SGA uses signage in Highsmith to advertise the new space.

“With new signs and labeling, commuter students will know this lounge is available for them to use,” Collman said.

Although the information is displayed in Highsmith, many non-residents said they still did not know about the new space.

“I think it would be helpful to have a little more advertising for the new amenities for non-residents in the academic spaces,” Stewart said.

Along with the new nap space, SGA has a few other ideas to improve the off-campus experience.

“Other commuter related plans include raising awareness about the campus shuttle services, installing a water bottle fill system in the library and working with Campus Recreation on getting more commuter bicycles for the bike shop,” Paredes said.

By Meredith Foster – mfoster@unca.edu – Staff Writer

Students enjoy the versatile study and napping area in the Highsmith Pinnacle Monday. Photo by Will Breedlove - Staff Photographer.
Students enjoy the versatile study and napping area in the Highsmith Pinnacle Monday. Photo by Will Breedlove – Staff Photographer.

SGA wants students to know they are there to help resolve their issues.

“We do what we can, and we always want to hear how students feel,” Collman said. “I like tackling things students didn’t think we could change.”

According to Paredes, students can inform SGA of their thoughts, comments and concerns through a student contact report, which can be found on their website or in their office in Highsmith.

“SGA has also been raising awareness for Student Contact Reports through periodic tabling in Highsmith and outside the cafeteria,” Paredes said.

SGA creates these reports as a method of communication between student government and students.

“We always want to hear from students to help make UNC Asheville a better place to learn, live and grow,” Collman said.

Even though SGA is limited in what they can do, they have heard a lot of comments and complaints about student parking.

“I do want to pursue prorated parking passes for non-resident students. The way these would work is that students would pay for the parking lot they park in rather than the flat $100 fee,” said Paredes. “Further parking lots would be cheaper than more accessible ones like the Sherrill Center.”

Prorated lots are one of the many different ideas the university is perusing to alleviate the parking woes on campus.

“It just does not make sense that students are paying $100 to park in the farthest parking lots from campus,” Paredes said.

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