With 5,400 students living on campus and many more who commute, the 12,400 parking spaces at George Mason University’s Fairfax campus see their fair share of use.

“We don’t have a parking problem,” said Mason Press Secretary Dan Walsch. “The problem comes in how close to your building you can park.”

Walsch said the number of spaces available throughout the day — though some may be in a less convenient location than others — meets the needs of the university community.

“I understand the inconvenience people may feel if they cannot park as close to where they need to go,” Walsch said.
Carola Sierra, a junior athletic training major, characterized the parking situation on campus as “horrible.”

“I once had to park at University Mall by McDonald’s,” Sierra said. “Every time I come to campus I have to drive around for 10 minutes to find a space. I’m always running and it’s a pain.”

“With a university this size, they [parking] does a good enough job,” said Patrick Graham, a senior sociology major, “but good enough can still make it difficult for the individual.”

Graham said he knows there are complications with the logistics of parking in a school the size of Mason.

“I don’t mind walking 10 minutes to class,” he said. “Some people, though, may have trouble with that.”

Walsch said the money from permit sales goes to maintaining parking facilities and paying the salaries of the workers who populate them. Mason parking keeps a separate account for money brought in by the permits.

As for the future construction of more parking spaces, Walsch said nothing is set in stone.

“There’s potential that we may build another garage,” he said, “or that we may add additional parking in the southwest part of campus.”

Walsch said there are too many unknown variables at this point to comment on what such a project would cost or where the funding would come from. He said university officials consider the growth of the institution when new buildings are under consideration.

“We’re always looking at ways to make our facility more workable for students, faculty and visitors,” Walsch said. He said the Fairfax campus attracts millions of visitors each year.

“If a garage were constructed, it would have ample space,” Walsch said. “The cost would determine the size of the facility.”

He said revenue-generating structures such as a parking garage are typically funded from a variety of sources, including the state of Virginia, student fees and revenue bonds.

As the garage generates income, some of that money goes to recoup construction costs while some goes toward general upkeep of the garage, including the salaries of the workers who keep the building running.