Students raise safety concerns regarding Fairgrounds Gate 3 Parking Lot

The parking lot has no operating blue light emergency notification system despite numerous accounts of sexual harassment shared with The Exponent by students.


Austin Patterson, The Exponent

Several students have told The Exponent of instances of alleged sexual harrasment at the Fairgrounds parking lot, the required lot for first-year students.

While the Fairgrounds Gate 3 parking lot has been the required parking space for resident freshmen students for years, some female and female-presenting students told The Exponent they feel unsafe using the parking lot.

Bel Gallagher, a sophomore, said she and her friends had experienced sexual harassment in the lot. One day, when Gallagher was at the Fairgrounds with her friends, a group of “grown men” who stood or sat around started asking them where they were going and what parties were going on. These men also catcalled at Gallagher and her friends.

A female student, who asked not to be named by The Exponent, said she has experienced frequent sexual harassment from a fellow student which solely occurred in the Fairgrounds parking lot.

The parking lot, which is dimly lit and surrounded by trees, becomes dark at night. Campus Safety and Security said there is no functioning blue light emergency notification system located in the lot. Without blue lights, there is no way for students to contact Safety and Security directly unless they make a call on their personal phone.

Sophomore Alyssa Klauminzer said she has only heard “negative and anxiety-inducing” stories about the Fairgrounds. Therefore, she believes a blue light emergency notification system is needed.

Despite the concerns among students, first-years are still required to pay to use the parking lot since this is their only option if they wish to use a car on campus.

Pricing for a parking permit varies from $40-$80 for commuter students, and $70-$140 for resident students to obtain a parking permit.

“If the University is so set on continuing to use this lot for the youngest, most vulnerable students, they need an actual blue light there,” Klauminzer said.

Claire Johnson, a senior student who currently works at Campus Access Services, said she was too scared to use her car when she was a freshman for fear of “being in the Fairgrounds lot alone.”

Johnson said she carried a pepper spray with her due to the parking lot’s safety concern.

“I find it makes me feel safer and my family less worried because they know I have it always on me,” Johnson said.

Klauminzer and Gallagher also mentioned to The Exponent that they had carried a pepper spray with them under similar circumstances.

In a recent email with the subject line “Stay Safe, know your resources,” University administrators provided a list of resources to students, which includes a list of locations of where blue light emergency phones can be found. However, there is no mention of the Fairgrounds parking lot in this email.

Disclosure: Alyssa Klauminzer, who was interviewed for this article, also separately contributed an article to the Oct. 12 issue of The Exponent on a freelance basis.