Great Debate: Should the senior parking lot be decided by lottery

October 3, 2019

Parking selection for the 2019-2020 school year has proven difficulty as students living in the outskirts of the district region did not receive parking spots as more centrally based students received spots. Two seniors debate if BHS should keep the current lottery system or switch to a more distance-based selection.

Great Debate: The Senior Parking Lot Should be a Lottery

Every year, the rising Bernard’s High School Seniors fill out and submit their information and wait eagerly to see if they were selected for a spot in the Senior Parking lot, by the Lottery. The lottery has been used at Bernards to allocate spots for four years now, interested students will fill out a google form and submit it by the deadline. After all, the submissions are in they are sorted by first preference. Usually all the students who put down Semester 1 as their first preference will be granted those spots if there are enough for all of them, and the remaining students are put in the lottery for a Semester 1 spot. A random number is assigned in excel, and the people with the lowest numbers are granted the remaining spots. There are two separate lotteries for Semester 1 and 2. Those who have semester 2 as their preferred choice will be given a spot, assuming again that there are enough, and then the leftover people are placed again into the lottery.
The parking lottery is deemed the fairest way to allocate spots to the students who desire them. Prior to the current lottery system, there was a lottery only for full year spots, but this resulted in number of kids not getting spots at all. The current lottery system allows for students to have a better chance at a spot, even if it is just for a semester. And about 5 or 6 years ago before either of the lotteries, the spots were a first come first served allocation system, applications were released over the summer and whoever handed the forms in first would be granted a spot.
There are also 10 spots at the Bernardsville Library, and the students who did not receive a spot from the lottery are asked first if they would like a spot there, and if there are still spots left after that then the remaining seniors who did not apply for a spot are then asked if they would like to receive one.
A number of students at BHS believe that the parking should not be a lottery, Senior Caroline Hunnewell, a Gladstone resident who only received a half year parking spot, says, “The distance a person lives from home should definitely be taken into consideration, it makes no sense that kids who live within a mile or less from the school get a full year parking spot, while kids who lie in Bedminster, Peapack, etc, only get half year spots.” The solution many students propose is that the kids who live farthest away, Bedminster, Peapack, and Gladstone, should get first priority over those who live closer in Bernardsville. But the issue with making some kids a priority over others is that this is not only not feasible but it also comes off as unfair.
The reason the lottery is used is because it is the only real fair way to insure that every kid has equal chance of getting a spot. This is what senior Abby Iskra believes, “the lottery is the best way because it gives everyone a fair chance to get on campus parking.” If you place kids farther away as a priority to those who don’t live as far there becomes an immediate bias, you cannot give some kids a 90% chance to get a spot, while others only have 10% chance. There would also be no other efficient way to allocate spots, looking at every single person’s address and then determining whether or not they live far or farther than another person and if their distance from the school puts them at the top of the list to get spot. Dr Corbett believes that there is no “easy or practical way” to change the system. The lottery is the fairest and most efficient way of granting spots, it allows people to have a very high chance of receiving a spot, though not ideal students are still getting spots even if it is not for their desired time.

No easy way to do that, no practical way to do that

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Great Debate : The senior parking lot should not be a lottery

Great Debate : The senior parking lot should not be a lottery

For the senior class of 2020, the parking lot is decided by a random lottery drawn by Dr. Corbett prior to the start of the school year.

This lottery is completely random and does not recognize how far kids live away from school. With around 160 parking spots in the lot, the lot fills up with drivers from Bernardsville, Bedminster, and Peapack and Gladstone.

The underlying issue with the parking lot is that it is a random lottery and students who live within 5 miles of the school can register in the lottery and receive a full-year parking spot and take away a spot from students who live farther away from the school.

Although I believe that the best option for the lot is not a random lottery, the random lottery works in the sense of an equal chance for students to get a parking spot. With each student being able to have an equal fair shot at getting a spot, a lottery adds equality for students when applying for a spot.

As a student who lives 13 miles away from school and every morning, I wake up and drive around 30-35 minutes to get to school just so I can have a half year spot does not make any sense to me while there are students who live in Bernardsville and 1-2 miles away from the school get a full year spot. Thus meaning that as a second-semester senior I would have to fight for a spot on Olcott while students who live within walking distance of the school get to pull into a spot.

In this situation, there is a difference between equity and equality. Students like myself and others live much farther away from the school and have to travel around half an hour just to not get to park in the parking lot.

Senior Finn Smith said, “I honestly do not understand why the parking lot is a lottery. Luckily I was fortunate enough to get a spot but I have friends who live near me in Gladstone who did not get a spot or only got a half year spot when it takes us about 20 minutes to get to school. I believe that the lottery should be abolished and it should be a first come first serve system that juniors enroll in at the end of their junior year.”

Dr. Corbett who runs the parking lottery for seniors said, “When I first got here It was first come first serve but we were under 800 students with fewer spots and seniors to take spots but now the classes got bigger and we had troubles with all the seniors getting spots so Dr. Nigel and I decided on a lottery.”

When asking Corbett about whether or not he would consider changing the lottery based on distance, “I would not be opposed to changing it based on distance on an honors system and how many miles away you live. Although, that will come with its problems because of the cut off distance of who does and who doesn’t get a spot.”

A solution to this very solvable issue is to continue the lottery for the parking lot but allow students who live a certain distance away from the school to have top priority in receiving a spot over students who live within walking distance of the school.

This would then allow students like myself to come to school and not have to worry about parking on Olcott before school and potentially receive lates to their first-period class, while still allowing all students to have an opportunity at receiving a spot. Although this could controversial for students who live very close to the school, they still would have an opportunity to get a spot plus they can still get to school and even get a spot on Olcott if they did not acquire a parking lot spot.

Senior Susan Oberschmidt said about the parking lot lottery, “I think the lottery is important but I do think sometimes those who apply for a spot are not in as much need for one as some of the students who live in Bedminster and far hills”

With the senior parking lot being a lottery and causing kids who live farther away to miss out on spots in the parking lot, there needs to be changed to this system to account for students who live farther away to get a spot.

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