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Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services offers advice for bringing cars to campus

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A row of cars parked on 4th Street are covered by a thick blanket of snow. Credit: Lantern File Photo

Josh Farmer, a fifth-year in communication, said he’s been making a 45-minute commute to campus four times a week for the past three years while splitting classes at Ohio State’s Marion branch campus and main campus. He said due to the drive, he has to start his days an hour and a half earlier in order to prepare for dealing with traffic and finding a parking spot.

“It’s hard to be on time,” Farmer said. “I talk to my professors a lot to let them know I’m going to be late because traffic backs up at inconvenient times … When you have almost an hour of driving where things can go wrong, you are very frequently late.”

Bringing a car to the campus area presents the chance for students to have freedoms to drive to classes, grocery stores or internships. Though owning a car is convenient, inconveniences like finding parking or having a breakdown can occur, and dealing with these problems can create stress.

Rachel DeMooy, program manager at the Office of Student Life’s Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services, said there are about 17,000 students living in the immediate off-campus area at Ohio State. This large amount of people, along with another 13,000 living in dorms, can create headaches for students trying to find parking for class. DeMooy, who commutes to campus from outside of the University District, said the best way for students to avoid the struggles of parking is to be prepared.

“I always look at the CampusParc website before going to campus,” DeMooy said. “On their website, it actually tells you what garages are full and what percent full.”

One way students with a parking permit can shorten their walks to class is by simply finding  closer parking spaces. But this is usually easier said than done. But for students who have evening classes, the parking lot rules change after 4 p.m.: Remote parking permits and West Campus permits are valid for A, B and C spaces.

Additionally, for those who frequently park their car on the street in the University District, Demooy recommended buying an individual street permit from the city of Columbus, which costs $25.

For students who live off-campus and do not use a parking pass, DeMooy recommends downloading the Ohio State and OSU Bus mobile apps, and utilizing the university bus system. Furthermore, she said the bus app could be useful for students with a parking pass because they can mix both ways of transportation to make travel to class quicker.

DeMooy said there aren’t many disadvantages to having a car on campus as long as students are prepared and educated. She said one thing all students should have in their car is an emergency kit in case they experience troubles, car or otherwise. Beyond the basics, like a first aid kit and jumper cables, having a spare set of clothes or a cellphone charger might be useful in an unpredictable situation, she said.

Demooy also said preparing your car for the winter weather could help in situations made more challenging by ice, such as parallel parking.

“If you drive a rear-wheeled drive vehicle, put something heavier in your trunk to keep the car from slipping on ice,” she said.

DeMooy also said precautions, such as keeping items out of plain sight or in your trunk, should be taken to reduce car break-ins.

Farmer also mentioned the impact commuting has on his time on campus. Without anywhere close to go between classes, he said he started scheduling his classes closer together in order to reduce the spare time in between class.

This feeling of not having anywhere to go during the day is something that DeMooy said she hears many commuters talk about, and it’s something the Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services is working to improve. On the third floor of The Union is a lounge and kitchen for commuters. There, students can use the lounge’s utilities and space to store and cook food or work on their studies.

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