The recent article in The Weekly about parking on campus could open up a space for students and administration to discuss the larger issue of public transportation at Mills. It seems that if there is a parking problem, one solution would be to have less cars.
Eventually Mills College will need a long-range plan that changes the way we think about transportation. For now, commuters who take public transit have a few options: AC transit, BART to Fruitvale and bike or bus, or take the Mills van. AC transit is an option, but many feel unsafe taking the bus after dark (especially younger women). Students with disabilities are especially affected by the limits of public transportation. If Mills wishes to back up its claim in the admissions brochure and on its Web site, to the importance of a diverse student body, this issue has to be addressed.
Mills has already made some good steps that need to be taken further. For example, last year the Mills van became free to all students (meaning that everyone pays a fee with tuition, whether or not you take the van). This has increased the funding for the van service, which could be used for an expanded schedule. So far, only one late time (9 p.m.) has been added just this week because of student requests and complaints.
Angela Hsu, a second-year graduate student studying music performance, says that the head of public safety, Dan Brown, is very open to student suggestions. She would like to see both the small and large vans in use because there have been some people who cannot fit and end up stranded. She also said, “MacArthur would be a great stop, a lot of people live in that area, and for people who BART from San Francisco especially.” Here are some of my ideas for a change that looks toward a more sustainable plan for the future:
Expanded van schedule with both vans in use, excellent advertising of this schedule and carpools for commuting students who do drive (perhaps a secure webpage where people can find others who live in their area). No plan for expansion of parking spaces on campus, but encouragement from admissions for new students to live in the community close to Mills so it is possible to walk or bike to school.
This last suggestion points to two ideals: first, a reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels and second, an ethic of locality. To live where we work (and do the work of school) is an act that enriches a place and hopefully our relationship with that place.
Mills College can make these ideals a reality through simple, practical (and economically viable) policies that may encourage a more ethical relationship to our place.
Second-year MA student