Parking woes still plague college

By Madelyn R. Brown - Staff Reporter

Some relief for Highline's perennial parking hassles is on the horizon, but it probably won't arrive until 2024 when the Sound Transit Link finally reaches the Federal Way Transit Center.

With the beginning of the Fall Quarter, a lot of students say they are exasperated as parking lots continue to fill up, and long lines are a fact of life.

"Parking in the first few weeks of the quarter has always been a challenge," said Francesca Fender, analyst/executive assistant and transportation coordinator for Highline. "It's a weird limbo we're in right now."

Relief for Highline students is far off.

"Someday we'll have [more] transportation options," said Fender, alluding to the much-anticipated Sound Transit (Link) that is slowly but surely reaching the college.

But relief will not be available until the entire line from Angle Lake to Federal Way opens.

The Federal Way Link Extension will not be opening in increments.

All three stations (including the Kent/Des Moines station) will be "ready for [service] all at the same time in 2024," said Rachelle Cunningham, public information officer for Sound Transit.

In the meantime, Fall Quarter continues to be notorious as one of the busiest times of the academic school year; making easy parking a distant dream—especially in the mornings.

To cope, many students are apparently avoiding parking lots all together by altering their means of accessing campus. Many are choosing to be dropped off.

Unfortunately, this isn't always an option, and so Highline drivers are forced to wait. And wait…

"It's been kind of hectic," said Ermina Ciric, a first-year student. "It took me 10 minutes to find parking this morning."

In the meantime, Fender is encouraging students to look at all the avenues available; carpooling, transits, and the Federal Way and Kent/Des Moines Road Park and Ride stations.

The Rapid Line Metro "[is also] very convenient," Fender said.

Rapid Line buses from the north will soon drop students off right in front of Building 99, rather than at the AM/PM store south of South 240th Street.

"We try to market for this," said Fender, but there's only so much that can be done. Students need to take an active role by looking regularly at the Metro Transit website for updates, she said.

As an extra incentive to use the bus system, "we reimburse 15 percent of students' monthly [ORCA] commuting costs," Fender said.

There are no qualifications; any Highline student can fill out the form on the Highline website, (go to Administrative Services: Commuting to Highline page), and reap the rewards.

Along with the reimbursement form, the online Administrative Services' helps students find bus routes that specifically serve the campus, as well as bicycle storage rack locations on campus.

"There are other options" besides driving, Fender said. "It might not work for everyone, but it might be good to try."

It's important that students also know that they will not get their parking permits revoked by riding the bus, and it doesn't affect the 15 percent reimbursement.

"You can have your cake and eat it too," Fender said.

As for the current parking congestion, some relief naturally occurs as the quarter progresses and students drop classes.

Within the next "four weeks, the parking should become easier," Fender said.

If students need to drive, the East and South lots are not the only available parking choices; there's also the North Lot behind the Library and right beside the baseball field.

"It's always easy to park there [in the mornings]." said student Amina Tou. "[It's] mostly empty."

Other options include arriving on campus before 9 a.m. or giving oneself adequate time to circle the lots.

"[It's] very crowded," said first-year student Daveena Pook. "But there's always available spots" for those willing to wait.

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Suicide Stopped

An alert Highline staff member and local public safety officers helped stop a potential suicide on campus last week. While a staff member was working, he noticed a suspicious male wandering the East Lot around 6:25 a.m. May 25. The staff worker called Highline Public Safety who responded to find the individual running around with a rope in his hands, looking for a place to possibly hang himself. This prompted Public Safety to contact Des Moines Police and South King County Fire and Rescue. By the time first responders came to the scene, the distraught man climbed into a tree near Building 99, ready to use the rope on himself. First responders talked to the man, successfully convincing him to come down from the tree. After the turmoil settled the individual was transported to a nearby hospital for an evaluation. Sgt. George Curtis of Public Safety said this was the first time he has encountered someone attempting to endanger their own life on campus.

Staff member passes out

Public Safety said the actions of the staff member who reported the incident is an excellent example of how “see something, say something” could potentially save a life. A staff member was reported to have passed out in Building 4 at 8:10 a.m. The person was sitting in their chair when they lost consciousness, then fell out, hitting their head on the ground. Public Safety arrived but the staff member refused any medical treatment.

Late night fast food runs a no-no

A suspicious car was spotted on campus at 1:35 a.m. on May 28 by a Public Safety officer. The car was occupied by two students and parked between buildings 29 and 22. The two students had gone to Jack in the Box and decided to eat the fast food on campus. They were told by the officer to leave because campus was closed.

Learn all about Safe Zones

Allies of the LGBTQIA community along with faculty and staff will be hosting a Safe Zones training program, next month. Safe Zones is a program identifying individuals in the school community who are safe and supportive allies of LGTBQIA students and faculty. The Safe Zones training is put on by Highline’s Multicultural Affairs organization. The program is about learning more about the queer community and to build skills to use on the Highline campus and out in other communities. The LGBTQIA Taskforce has been working on creating a basic curriculum for the Safe Zones training that not only provides information that may seem basic or simple. Anyone is welcome to the Safe Zones training. The training will be June 2, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Writing Center, Building 26 room 319i.

Annual Vicom Portfolio Show is next week

Highline is hosting its annual portfolio show next week. Design students will show off their work and achievements on June 5 - 6. The show is in Building 8, Mt. Olympus room from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.

Faculty awards nominations due

The annual vote for Highline’s Outstanding Faculty Awards has been extended June 5. The Highline College Foundation provides two $1,500 awards to be presented to Highline College’s Outstanding Faculty of the Year. Nominations can be made by any student, staff member, faculty member or administrator of Highline. A person may make only one nomination for each award. Further detainominations need to consist of written statements from both the nominator and then a second reference that gives specific emphasis to the nominee’s contribution to education at Highline. Nominations need to be submitted to the Selection Committee in the Office of Instruction, Mailstop 9-2, by 5 p.m. on June 5.

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Opinion Editor - Jessica Strand

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