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Letters to the Editor

November 28, 2006

Dear Editor,

Thanks to the generosity of dozens of campus offices, dormitories, student organizations, church groups, parents and local citizens, Cornucopia, the UNH Food Pantry, provided more than 95 Thanksgiving food baskets to members of our community.

This was truly an opportunity for all of us to witness how we can come together to help those of us in difficult circumstances and how much even our smallest actions can make a difference in other people’s lives. Thank you to everyone who contributed.

While these food baskets helped to assure that more people were able to enjoy the bounty of our traditional Thanksgiving, they have not erased the ongoing needs within our community. We hope that all of us here at UNH will come together to address this issue in a couple of ways.

First, please continue to donate baskets—again in a few weeks and then later in the spring. Requests for them have more than doubled in the last two years. You can offer to donate through the Cornucopia website at www.cornucopia.unh.edu.

Second, we urge everyone to focus on changing current public and organizational policies that contribute to economic injustice in our community and world. Even here at UNH, we have policies and practices that contribute to hunger on campus. Some of these include:

  • Penalizing undergraduate students for receiving additional scholarship money by using it to reduce existing scholarship monies rather than to reduce student loans
  • Hiring new full-time UNH staff and offering them no benefits
  • Allowing significant rent increases to go forward at Forest Park
  • Limiting many international graduate student stipends to an average of $14,000 a year
  • Contracting for outside labor without appropriate wage and safety guarantees
  • Continuing to pay some staff wages that are far below what is considered a “living wage” in this area

As a community committed to social justice and diversity, we can not allow ourselves to accept these kinds of conditions here. Many wonderful staff, faculty and student and organizations are working to bring changes to institutional policies and practices, and they need all of our help. P

Please speak up and work with our various governing bodies (Student Senate, Operating Staff Council, PAT Council, Presidents’ Commissions, Faculty Senate, etc.) to insist that all of our policies and practices respect our needs for ample food and decent housing. Together we can create a community that not only espouses justice but lives it.

Sincerely,

The Thompson School Community Leadership Program

The Office of Community Service and Learning

The United Campus Ministry to UNH

Contact: Kate Hanson, kate.hanson@unh.edu, 2-1064


To whom this may concern this article enrages me. This article presents
UNH as a giant parking lot with room for everybody, and I assure you, as
a student of 3 years, parking has never been easy. It seems very biased.
I would be really unhappy, moreso than I am right now with the parking
situation, if I was new to UNH and expected to find easily available
parking. Parking lot A fills up by 8:30 AM leaving the dirt lot at Mast
Road (which is not regularly plowed during snow storms and smells like
Horse
Defication) and West Edge. Both of which are not safely accessable by
walking and a shuttle can take up to 25 minutes during normal business
hours. Where are these 86 parking lots. I can't even fathom where this
number came from. The article also does not mention the price of the
average ticket on campus, which I have recieved 3 because of the
difficulty of parking legally.

I'll stop now. I feel that the campus journal or newspaper is the only
medium with the power to change things for the better. I have voiced my
concern to the Transportation Services Department and unfortunately fell
on deaf ears.

Best Wishes,
Brandon G. Bell Student


Response:
Dear Mr. Bell

It is in fact true that UNH has over 80 parking lots maintained for use
by our permit parking community representing a total of over 6,400
parking spaces.  This represents over 50 acres of surface land area
devoted to commuter and resident parking.  Since 2001, we have engaged
the campus community in discussions and actions to improve access and
movement on campus.   Part of that discussion has focused on realistic
expectations for private auto access to core campus.

We acknowledge that the current parking allocation and distribution
likely affects commuter students most acutely.  Our efforts to improve
that situation have focused on the provision of high frequency transit
service and recent expansions of two peripheral lots.  

We believe that the West Edge Express with its scheduled 10 minute or
better frequency during weekdays is improving access to core campus.  At
all times of even the busiest day at UNH empty parking spaces can be
found at West Edge.   We hope that the majority of mid day arrivals
would go to those lots and use the Campus Connector. 

We are accelerating our efforts to improve traffic flow to enable the
transit system to stay on-time (see related Main Street article).   We
have also expanded available visitor and short-term paid access parking
in C-Lot and Wildcat Transit now provides more frequent weekday service.

UNH has never represented, nor desired to represent itself as a giant
parking lot.  Our Campus Master Plan seeks to reinforce a core, walking
campus with surrounding lots.  We have strived to develop a campus
community which balances transportation choices (transit, auto, bike,
pedestrian and rail) with the needs of our living, learning and natural
environment within available resources. 

Certainly, if ease of parking where a primary criteria for choosing a
college, UNH might not win the contest.  It should be noted, however,
that we do fall within the midrange of availability of parking for peer
New England institutions. 

Transportation has improved significantly at UNH in the past five years.
We also know there is much still to be done.  I would invite you to
visit the websites of the Transportation Policy Committee and Campus
Master Plan to view the visions, metrics and timelines we have for
improvement.  Those visions will require that the community revisit the
resources we collect and invest in transportation. 

The UNH student body has played a positive role in these discussions and
we are grateful for their ongoing support of transportation investments.
We hope that you will be constructively involved in that discussion.

Sincerely

Douglas Bencks,
Director of Campus Planning and University Architect

 


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