Campus Life

The early osprey catches the worm

Republished from Volume 89, Issue II, September 16, 2019.

You may have heard the saying, “the early bird catches the worm,” but this is no joke when it comes to trying to park at Stockton University. From students, to faculty, to wildlife, everyone at Stockton knows parking is often so scarce that students have to park near the Athletic Field and get shuttled over to Main Campus. The early bird has always been catching the worm, but the average Osprey hasn’t been able to catch a parking space since the 1970s. 

In 1978, Stockton had 2,500 parking spaces in academic lots and less than 5,000 students; now Stockton has 9,600 undergraduate and graduate students but only around 5,400 academic parking spaces. Many students report that they have driven to Galloway up to two hours before their morning classes to get the last parking spot. It seems that Stockton may be the only school where students are glad to have a class at 8:30am, because it’s the best time of day to park. “If you show up at 7:50, you can usually find a few spots,” Breanne Vance, current student said, “but if you pull in at 8 o’clock, you may as well forget about it.” Breanne, a former commuter, stated she became a Stockton resident because of her parking trouble. 

An early map of the campus. Photo courtesy of Stockton Library Archives.

Parking has not become any easier within the past 40 years. In 1978, an anonymous student who became known as “Le Villain” began stealing parking tickets off cars who were parked illegally around campus. Le Villain caused dismay to the Stockton Police, who had issued tickets that were only to be stolen by them, and to the Bursar’s Office, where fines piled up. These fines could not be enforced due to the magnitude of the situation, as Le Villain told an Argo writer he had stolen over 100 parking tickets. 

Le Villain was not only reviled by Stockton faculty, but by students as well. According to a student who submitted their remarks to The Argo after the ticket thief’s comments were published, they wished Stockton Police gave out more parking tickets. The student complained of a lack of accountability for students breaking the law and commented that they should “grow up.” Additionally, they commented that Le Villain had stolen a week’s worth of parking tickets left on their own illegally parked car and they wanted them back. 

Though this story is one of Stockton’s greatest mysteries, the parking situation only continues to worsen as more students get admitted each year. The building of the Unified Science Center also cost the university over 500 parking spaces. Parking troubles have increased as a result, with Main Campus Lots 0-7 filling up before 10 in the morning. 

Parking at Stockton may not be ideal, but the university does not charge for parking permits like many other schools. Schools like Rider, Montclair, and Rutgers require residential and commuter students to pay hundreds of dollars for parking passes. To park at Stockton comes at no cost, and shuttles are available for students from several locations around the campus. According to the daily parking reports given by Michael Sullivan, the Manager of Parking and Transportation Services at Stockton, the Athletic Field Lots were never filled and have periodic shuttles transporting students. Even though trying to park at a Stockton parking lot is a hassle, it is one that comes free of charge.