INTRODUCTION FROM THE COURSE INSTRUCTOR
In the Fall of 2022, one of my students came to class visibly upset. At some point, she got up and left in the middle of class, tears in her eyes. I asked the person sitting next to her what was wrong and she responded, “she got a parking ticket this morning.” The student returned to class a while later, but not much had changed in her demeanor. She was in class, but her mind was fixated on the ticket she received.
Later that very semester, as I taught for the first time my PSY 357 Psychology of Liberation and Healing course, issues related to parking reemerged. The class is a Course Undergraduate Research Experience Course (CURE). My approach to teaching the course is to treat it like a 30 person research lab where we all identify a research question, conduct a study, and analyze the results together. I use photovoice (Sutton-Brown, 2014), a participatory action research method where all participants act as co-researchers to address an issue of injustice in the community. I posed the initial question, “What forms of oppression are silenced at CSUMB.” In response, students drew and took pictures of issues related to parking along other issues like keeping up with the rising cost of living. I felt uncomfortable with the idea that finding a parking spot was tied to structural oppression. Is a particular group being denied access to resources? Or is it just an inconvenience everyone has to face as part of university life?
Looking back, I realized that my positionality as faculty, as someone that only needed to pay for one parking permit, did not find the cost (of a faculty permit) too expensive, and was usually able to find a parking spot close to my building, prohibited me from seeing that what students were raising was much more than what I had originally dismissed as an “inconvenience.” It all came to a head when in the Spring of 2023, I asked my new PSY 357 class the same question, “What forms of oppression are silenced at CSUMB,” and six different students mentioned their frustration with finding parking and receiving parking tickets. In fact, three different students dedicated their entire photovoice narrative to their frustration with parking permits and parking tickets.
This time I realized that I needed to re-examine my assumptions. When the students and I looked closer, we could identify that the costs (emotional and financial) associated with parking were tied to a much larger matrix of oppression- the policing of students that characterize them as “offenders” via parking violations, the commodification of stolen native land, the high cost of permits, which gentrify access to parking, and therefore access to school for first-generation low-income students, and the ableism of expecting that all students are able-bodied enough to walk to main campus when finding parking in a distant lot.
Through our critical dialogues we began to unravel horror stories of students unknowingly accumulating $600 in parking ticket late fees, of consistently waking up early and losing precious sleep to find a parking spot, of students who could not find a parking spot and gave up on coming to class or campus altogether. This zine highlights the research questions we began to address in class, “How have experiences with parking on campus affected students' mental health? And “What are potential solutions that do not involve taking more land or construction?” As can be implied in the second question, although some students suggested that the solution to the lack of parking spots could be resolved with the construction of a multi-level parking garage, other students raised the importance of preserving nature, the environment, and thinking with climate justice in mind.
How We Conducted Our Research
Students brought up many different issues in their photovoice narratives and images. To identify which issues might be most prevalent among students’ experiences, I had students conduct a content analysis. This brief content analysis involved students in their small groups looking at all the photovoice submissions from class peers and coming up with themes and keywords that they felt captured the essence of these images and narratives. Using a word cloud generator (sli.do), the biggest themes identified were “mental health,” “resources,” and “parking.” I proposed to the class that we take a closer look at parking, sensing that the issue was actionable and tied to both mental health and resources.
In addition to the photovoice method and critical dialogues described above, one of the students in the class, Mikayla, asked if we could collect quantitative data through a questionnaire. After coming up with some initial questions based on our critical dialogues, we used time in class to modify the questions in the questionnaire as well as add some questions suggested by students that I had not originally thought of.
Students repeated the same process of producing photovoice narratives and images, conducting a content analysis, and generating a word cloud, this time with the prompt, “what forms of liberation/healing could be possible at CSUMB?” Unmistakably, the largest theme that came up was, “community.” With photovoice there is an action component. Thus, our action component needed to work toward building community in addition to challenging the oppressive dynamics around parking.
Through our critical dialogue we came up with the following demands: grace periods for students during move-in week, offering free parking to all students, improving shuttle services and re-establishing the university’s relationship with MST for students to reliably get to various places on campus, and that warnings be issued before giving parking citations. The creation of this zine precedes a parking protest and march scheduled for May 8, 2023 during our class time. The goal of this protest is to build community, talk to students, raise awareness about these issues, and invite students to take our survey and sign our petition.
We are still collecting survey results from the larger CSUMB community, but in our class alone, 25 students filled out the survey. It is noteworthy to mention that in less than 24 hours from the moment the survey was dispersed beyond our classroom the responses ballooned from 25 to 74 entries with passionate responses in the open-ended portion of the survey. I’ll share one of these entries, “Asking poor students or their families already stretching to help their students to afford 2+ parking passes is shameful.”
The number of survey responses is still growing after 5 days from its debut (142 responses to date), and in this zine you will find students from this class reporting on other open-ended responses from the broader CSUMB student community.
Here are some of the quantitative results from our class alone, which I’m finding have not shifted much when looking at all 142 respondents: In our class, over half identify as women (68%) and the majority identify as People of Color (84%). Of these 25 respondents in our class, 84% either “strongly disagree” or “disagree” with the statement that “parking is affordable.” In terms of mental health impact, 52% “strongly agree” that receiving a parking citation affects their ability to focus on school, and 60.9% report “always” worrying about finding a parking spot. In terms of educational impact, nearly a quarter (24%) of our class respondents say that they “always” skip school or class if they can’t find a parking spot.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. We hope that the readers of this zine examine their own assumptions (like I had to do) and open their mind to what liberation psychologist Ignacio Martín-Baró named as the “deideologization of everyday experiences” or in other words, an uncloaking and unmasking of everyday forms of oppression that are otherwise silenced or minimized.- Christine Rosales, Ph.D. Assistant professor of Psychology
the Parking Management bureau
By Stephanie Esquivel, Lizbeth Ortega, Jackie Garcia Mora, Raquel Saldana & Julia Garcia
Comic: How Can We Fix the Parking Situation?
By Jackie Garcia Mora with support from her group
By Jackie Garcia Mora with support from her group
By Dakota Harding with support from her group
By Jourdan Garnier with support from his group
By Daniel Duarte, Mauricio Morales, Jasper Magallon, Cassandra Palmeno, Milagro Alonzo-Ruelas
Poem: $378 for Parking
By Cassandra Palmeno with support from her group
Poem: It’s just a Parking Spot
By Milagro Alonzo-Ruelas with support from her group
The flyer on the right was created by Dana O'donnell, a student member of ADLCAbolitionist Decolonial Learning Collective
Thank you Dana, this is really cool!
This flyer and the flyer on the following page were created by Mikayla Castillo, a newly minted member of SQE- Students for Quality Education!
Collective Content Analysis of Photovoice Narratives
Notes from our Second Critical Dialogue
The photovoice method is usually followed by a series of critical dialogues
Purchased a zip car in order to alleviate costs of buying a daily parking permit. Proved to be inconvenient and cost prohibitive
Parking issue not an obstacle for able-bodied students
Parking issue affecting education: professor 20 minutes late to class and had to park in a timed parking space (risked ticket for students)
Waiting for financial aid to cover cost of parking (can take months)
No grace period for parking compared to MPC and other community colleges
Stress of commute to school combined with stress of finding parking
30 minutes looking for parking, 30 minute commute
Resorting to asking friends and partners to drop us off at school
The walk from Lot 71 is very creepy and students do not feel safe walking alone
Working to pay for education at CSUMB
What resources are the parking permits paying for?
Collective Content Analysis of Photovoice Narratives
Professors and students park in the same areas but the prices are vastly different ($70.00 v. $189)
Outside authority controls parking prices
Rent, food, tuition, bills - $6,000
Calculate how many days a student spends on campus and factor this is for a daily parking permit
Sacrifice clubs because parking permits are cost prohibitive
Class by stadium: parking pass does not cover this area of campus
Mental health affected by parking permits
Sacrifice school experience because of parking costs
One student never received their parking permit and was forced to buy a new one (even though they had all of the documentation to show they already paid for one)
During COVID-19, MPC offered free parking to students because they wanted the students to take care of their health and not stress out over parking costs
Follow the MPC model of parking and move away from capitalist model
We have the means to provide free textbooks and parking to students (COVID-19 showed us that)
Instead of spending $10,000 on a mascot, provide free parking for students
Create reliable shuttle service: University of San Diego provides shuttle service to all areas of the campus every fifteen minutes