Rutgers students discuss Sears parking lot
Parking is an issue that affects most students, especially those who commute, but many students have found a solution to their parking issues with the Sears parking lot.
On Cook campus, next to the Henderson apartments and bus stop, there is a Sears department store with a parking lot where many students park their cars. The parking lot connects to Route 1 and is highlighted in green on the RU Maps application.
Heather Falcone, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, lives on the College Avenue campus and parks her car in the Sears lot when she goes to her classes on Cook campus.
“I’ve been parking here forever, but this semester has been more during the morning hours,” she said.
Falcone parks at Sears so she does not need to take a bus and does not need to buy a parking pass.
Hamza Shuja, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, said he parked at the Sears lot all three years he has been at Rutgers.
Shuja parks at Sears twice per week, when he has class on the nearby Douglass campus. Parking at Sears means he does not need to purchase a parking pass for one of Rutgers' designated parking lots and there are no time restrictions for when he can park.
But since the Sears parking lot is not owned by Rutgers, the parking lot’s overhead lights go out at 10 p.m. and the University has no jurisdiction to keep the lot safe from criminal activity at night.
The parking lot is private property and people are advised not to park overnight, said Rutgers spokesman E.J. Miranda.
The property is located within the jurisdiction of the New Brunswick Police Department, Miranda said.
Although both the New Brunswick Police Department and Rutgers University Police Department patrol that area, Miranda said any incidents occurring in that lot that are reported to RUPD are communicated to the NBPD.
Falcone said she has never had a safety concern when parking in the Sears parking lot.
“I used to have night classes so I’d park here until like 8:30 (p.m.),” she said. “There's always people around here and everyone always parks in here.”
But Shuja does have some concerns about parking and walking through the Sears parking lot at night.
“I have heard some things and it gets pretty dark here at night so that’s kind of scary looking, but I never witnessed it or experienced it myself,” Shuja said. “I do have some concerns when it is late at night, but I usually have a friend with me so it’s not that bad."
When Shuja knows his car will be parked in the lot late at night, he usually parks closer to the lights or near the store entrance.
“The safety of all members of the Rutgers University community is our top priority,” Miranda said.
Students who park their cars at Sears in the night time and do not feel comfortable walking though the parking lot in the dark alone can take precautions to ensure their own safety.
“We encourage all members of the Rutgers community to use good personal safety practices, such as walking in groups during late evening hours, avoiding isolated or dark areas and immediately reporting suspicious activities to the police,” Miranda said.
RUPD works closely with the Division of Student Affairs to educate students as to what they can do to lessen their chances of being the victim of a crime, he said. They also provide many programs, services and methods in place to help protect the Rutgers community.
“Upon request, Public Safety personnel provide escorts to students, faculty and staff who wish to have someone accompany them to their vehicle, campus residence or the University's mass transit system,” Miranda said.
Nick Huber is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. He can be found on Twitter @njhuber95Huber.