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Students Must Drive Electric Cars to Park on Campus

Senior Caroline MacRae tries to back out of her parking space, adding to the parking lot congestion and polluting the air. Photo: Sydnie Jiang

The shortage of parking spaces on campus continues to worsen due to the ever-growing size of classes. In an attempt to address the issue, some teachers now park off campus and walk back and forth from a remote location in order to provide more parking spaces for students. However, for the 2018-2019 school year, Head of School Fred Assaf is implementing a new rule that students can only park on campus if they drive an electric car.

“We’re enforcing this rule because not only does it solve the parking space shortage, it’s also good for the environment,” said Mr. Assaf. There are signs all around campus that forbid idling, but it doesn’t stop upper school students from idling in their parking spaces. Juniors and seniors tend to sit in their cars in the morning before school starts with their engines on, which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Additionally, according to Sustainable America, cars’ exhaust fumes can also damage brain cells. “We’ve taken all of this into account, and a lot of students agree that we have to take this measure to improve the environment,” said senior Sarah Ann Ninan. Ninan is a member of the student advisory board for the Isdell Center for Global Leadership, and she and a group of students work with Director of ICGL Tricia Anderson and Associate Director Zeena Lattouf to tackle environmental issues surrounding Pace.

By only allowing electric cars onto the Pace campus, which tend to be much smaller cars, there will be enough parking spaces to accommodate all students’ and faculty members’ cars with room to spare. “We’re planning to re-stripe the parking lot and create more, but smaller, spaces,” said Director of Facilities Dave Fortier. “That way, we’ll be able to solve the shortage of parking spaces that we’ve had for several years.”

However, not everyone is excited about Pace’s new switch to all electric cars. “Driving to school is really convenient since I play sports, but I don’t have an electric car, so now, my parents still have to drive me everywhere,” said sophomore Ben Tolliday. The ban on gas-fueled cars makes it very difficult for upperclassmen who have after school activities to arrange their busy schedules around when their parents can drive them. It is usually a special privilege that upperclassmen get to drive to practices and games, but now juniors and seniors have to take the bus with underclassmen again.

“We obviously can’t please everyone, even though we really try,” said Mr. Assaf. “But we think this change is the best for teachers, students and the environment.”