By Rebecca Najera
Upon returning to campus this fall, students may be in for a surprise when trying to find a place to park.
For the fall semester, the Apache Band will be using part of the student parking lot across the street from the band hall (S/R 14) for their morning rehearsals. While having part of the parking lot blocked off may upset some students, finding a place to park will not be an issue. Only an estimated one hundred parking spots will be blocked off by the band. The remaining open spaces will be available for parking. However, with the student population on campus continuously growing, additional parking has been created.
Where what used to be the Apache Woodlands has now become an additional space for students to park. While it may not be the most ideal place to park, the area more than makes up for the spaces being used by the band.
“We don’t have a parking problem here at TJC; we have a walking problem,” said Dr. Linda Gary, dean of Tyler Junior College School of Humanities, Communications, and Fine Arts. “We all want to park near the door. I do too. But the reality is at most college campuses, especially those of some size, students have to park and skateboard wherever they have to go, or bike wherever they have to go, so you have to get it set in your mind that you perhaps may have to walk.”
In the past, the band has practiced on the grass of the intramural field. However, this wasn’t the most ideal or safest place to rehearse. Having to march around holes, fire ants, and even the mud could be dangerous for the students and could be expensive if they were to fall and damage their instruments.
“From a student perspective, it feels like a downgrade coming from a school that probably practiced on concrete to grass,” said Jeremy Strickland, director of the Apache band. “But the vibe we have at rehearsals right now, the overall feeling, is completely different. ”
After just one rehearsal in the parking lot, the band was able to put their entire pregame show together, which is something they have never done. When practicing on grass, this process usually took at least two days.
“Marching on the asphalt is easier, in my opinion,” said sophomore alto saxophone player Jared Hamilton. “The flat surface makes marching more fluent, and it’s easier to mark our spots. With grass, there could be holes and mud patches we’d have to march around. The grass could also be itchy. And flies are everywhere which causes a distraction.”
The parking lot will remain blocked off for the Apache Band throughout the day for the remaining marching season. Once it ends, which will most likely be in November, the entire parking lot will be opened back up for students to park.
“The important thing to remember is that band is an academic endeavor, not an extracurricular activity or club. As an academic institution, our first priority has to be providing our students with the proper classroom space they need. Marching in the parking lot is an outdoor classroom space,” said Dr. Gary. “We took it to Dr. Juan Mejia and Dr. Bill King, and they are to be highly congratulated for this.”
Dr. Mejia, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, and Dr. King, the executive director of facilities and construction here on campus, approved the use of the parking lot for the band. “This provides a more equitable facility for the students that is within close proximity,” says Dr. Mejia.
In regards to concerns about student complaints, Dr. Gary said, “Dr. King, much to his credit, is trying to work with the presbyterian church near the school to rent parking spots for students. There isn’t a word on that yet, but if we are able to, we’ve pretty much well replaced the spots being used by the band.”
A special thanks goes out to Dr. Bill King and Dr. Juan Mejia for providing the band with a safe practice space.