Virginia Spataro, second from left, notes student comments during the question and answer session. In addition to the new dollar equivalency system, students suggested adding healthier options and reducing the price on desserts and other to-go items.
Image from Jill Patton

Students discussed their concerns about parking availability and the new meal plans with Student Government representatives, staff from campus security and dining services at a general board meeting.

The Student Government Association (SGA) invited Mark Naylor, Director of Campus Safety and Security, to the meeting on Monday, September 11 to discuss Security’s efforts to improve crowded parking conditions. SGA invited the entire student body to attend and ask questions after the presentation.

Because the freshman class includes about 750 students, the largest class in the college’s history, the limited amount of parking spaces has been a prominent concern. Naylor noted that he wanted parking to be “fair and equitable,” especially for commuter students.

As a solution, Security contracted parking spots from Genetti’s Hotel and Conference Center and moved 100 freshmen students to the new spaces. Genetti’s is located at 77 East Main Street, about a half mile from campus.

“We don’t expect you to walk to that lot at all,” Naylor said. The shuttle bus now makes stops at Genetti’s, and the Security van can also provide rides.

King’s College contracted spots from Genetti’s in the past, and Naylor assured students that the lot is safe. The Security van now patrols it every half hour. Genetti’s also has a security camera, and the police department is located around the corner.

In the spring semester, the parking garage at King’s on the Square will also help with overflow. The college obtained 200 parking spots with the property and currently contracts 70 spots to Highmark Blue Shield employees.

“[James Gilgallon, Executive Director of Campus Safety and Security] is sending out the letters today to those 70 contracted persons… They are going to be losing their spots as of January 1. The reason it’s taking so long is because legally and by documents that are signed, we have to make sure we’re doing our part to be legal,” Naylor explained. “[Regaining the 70 spots] will definitely alleviate the problem of commuter and resident student parking.”

For other long-term solutions, King’s College is in the process of purchasing several properties, including the Oasis Inn on North Pennsylvania Avenue. They will demolish the building and create new parking spaces.

Security also plans to improve the parking application process. They used to mail the parking forms to students, but began using online forms this year to eliminate costs. Next year, they will continue to use the online forms but will begin the process earlier. They hope to send the forms to upperclassmen before classes end in May. Students will not necessarily have to pay in May, but they will be able to secure a spot.

Although King’s used to prevent freshmen resident students from bringing cars to campus, Naylor said, “Administration is not going to go back to that route. We want you to have a car. I know in this day and age, that you have to have a job to support yourselves.”

Naylor encouraged students to communicate any concerns they may have, and reminded them that Security will always offer rides and walking escorts upon request.

“We’re here to make sure that your stay here is pleasant, that you don’t have to be stressed out about parking,” he concluded.

In addition, SGA invited Virginia Spataro, Marketing Manager of Dining Services, to present changes to the meal plan program and updates to campus restaurants.

With the new meal plan system, students receive a dollar equivalency at retail locations like Susquehanna Place, Connerton’s Cafe, and Leo’s on Mane. Students are allotted $5 for breakfast, $7 for lunch and $7 for dinner. If the bill exceeds the dollar equivalency, they can use Flex dollars, King’s Cash, cash, or credit to supplement their meal swipe. This system was an agreement between Chartwells and King’s.

The retail locations offer meal plan suggestions that meet the exact dollar equivalency, but Spataro pointed out that the menus offer many choices that fall within the allotted amount.

In the question and answer session, several SGA members pointed out that last year’s meal plan included an entrée, drink and side at the retail locations.

“That’s the most upsetting part to students, that there were things that were previously on the meal plan that they have to spend money out of their pocket or [with] Flex,” Jairad Hydrick, SGA Executive Board President commented.

Spataro offered to bring up the concern to Mark Devlin, Senior Director of Dining Services.

“Most of the time if you do get an item that’s not the featured meal plan option and a drink, it’s normally maybe 25 cents more, 75 cents more, a dollar more, nothing so significant that it’s going to deplete your Flex dollars at the end of the semester,” she said.
“King’s Court is the place where you’re going to get the most value out of your meal plan,” she suggested.

Spataro also discussed updates in the campus eateries. Due to last year’s thefts, Dining Services removed the self-serve kiosk in Monarch Mart. A sales associate now staffs it Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Since students requested extended weekend hours at Leo’s on Mane, it will now be open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. They plan to open a pub section with beer and wine in October.

The campus community will anxiously wait to see if their concerns will be met with more convenient policies in the near future.