Mobility Parking Sparks Anxiety and Confusion on Campus
By Justin Hu (he/him)
Students with mobility parking permits are being challenged attempting to access accessible parking spaces on campus, student reps say.
A recent change has meant that students with permits must also submit an application before receiving authorisation to park in accessible parking spaces, according to the reps.
The issue was brought up by the south campus, disability affairs and Te Ara Poutama representatives on AUTSA’s student representative council at April’s SRC meeting.
Focusing primarily on apparent problems at AUT’s south campus, the issue was tabled in a pre-reading at April’s student representative council meeting.
At the meeting, the then Te Ara Poutama representative Tasha Tahā Henneker said that the primary issue had been the confusion caused to students.
“The problem is that it’s not clear to students at all that this has been happening. There’s no signage anywhere to tell the students and it’s concerning because they were initially told they were allowed to park there.”
South campus students were originally told that mobility parking spaces were reserved as staff parking and that students should use regular car parks, the reps said.
AUT disputes that students need to apply to use mobility parking, with the university initially telling Debate that registration is not required to park at any mobility parking spaces.
“There is no requirement to register with Transport or any other AUT department to use mobility spaces, a valid CCS permit and payment either at the local meter or UbiPark app is all you need,” the university said in a statement.
The university said it was also unaware of any change to parking at south campus.
However, at the meeting, SRC reps tabled a copy of an application form with the title “2021 Application For Accessible Parking.”
The AUT-branded form requests information about the day of the week in which the spot is needed, whether the student uses a wheelchair, their ability to drive and their vehicle's mobility permit number.
“You’ll see there’s a form they have to fill out. What if you have to come in on a day that you're not listed on? They can't,” Henneker continued.
In a follow-up, the university said the form tabled by the reps was “old” and “no longer in use.” The university has not responded to Debate’s request for further information by the publication deadline.
Disability affairs officer Margaret Fowlie said that she had personally experienced issues with parking on campus.
“What happened this year is that one day they just put a note on my car saying that I wasn’t allowed to park there anymore or otherwise I would get towed.
“So I made contact with disability services. Disability doesn’t know what’s happening, the parking people aren’t being clear. It’s just nobody knows what’s going on.”
Reps also cited an anecdotal account of one student who had apparently waited three weeks for a response from the university for a mobility parking space.
An AUT spokesperson, however, disputed the claim in a statement saying instead that everything is fine.
“According to our internal monitoring of response times by the Transport Team, the average first reply time is within 1.36 hours and 98% of requests are responded to within 24 hours.”
“Our current provision allows for more spaces than we are required to provide. Mobility spaces are generally closer to areas where users need to be, and offer larger space for those requiring mobility aids and/or wheelchairs to get in and out of their vehicles safely,” the university said.
The SRC voted to level the issues with the university’s disability services and AUT’s Estates division, who manage the university’s transport services.