Should juniors respect so-called senior parking spots?

October 17, 2019 — by Jayne Zhou and Nitya Marimuthu

Since she got her driver’s license last year, senior Mia Gunderson has looked forward to parking in the coveted “senior spots,” the first two rows of the parking lot in front of the gym. As she arrived at school this year, finally having this chance, she noticed that several spots had already been taken, but not by seniors. Instead, she saw many juniors “skrrting” around in their flashy cars, such as BMWs and Teslas taking spots. 

Almost all juniors and seniors who drive to school understand the unspoken parking lot rules. The juniors park in the lot by the football field, nicknamed “Africa” for its distance from the school, while the seniors park in the middle lot located in front of the gym lobby. The junior lot contains around 150 spots while the senior lot contains 250 spots.  

The divide between the “senior lot” and “junior lot” has been ongoing for more than 10 years, according to campus supervisor Mark Hernandez. At some point, when Hernandez began working at the school, “seniors only” was even painted on the curbs to designate the best parking spots for seniors. But that school-sponsored tradition went away, and all that remains today is white paint covering over those words. 

However, the idea of claiming spots for different grades hasn’t always existed at the school. Although no one is quite sure when this tradition started, it was not around during the 1990s, when attendance secretary Mandy Armes attended the school. During that time, the spots were first come, first serve, she said. 

Word of this parking tradition spreads through grades in different ways. Most students seem to hear the “rule” from siblings or friends, while others hear it firsthand from annoyed seniors.

Junior Tyler Chu said that his older friends explained the difference between the two areas when he was a freshman, although he wrongly thought the senior-privilege also included particular spaces. Chu said he might still park in the senior lot when he is able to drive. He said he will have some slight concern about receiving backlash, but he is not too worried. 

Junior Allison Ha admits to parking in the senior lot, but only in the last few rows. She said the juniors are not necessarily restricted to parking in the far back of the lot, but she agrees with the senior lot “rule” because she understands that the seniors waited their turn to park in the senior lot. 

“The juniors don't necessarily need to park in Africa, they should just park in the back two rows of the middle parking lot,” Ha said. “However, when I am a senior I don't want juniors parking in the senior lot either.”

Another junior girl, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she also parks in the last few rows of the senior lot and feels that all spaces are fair game. She said that she will continue to park in the senior lot, despite having minor concerns over the seniors getting angry at her. 

Although most juniors interviewed say they try to remain in the last few rows, many seniors observe some juniors wandering closer to the more coveted spots, blurring the old, established line between the seniors and juniors. 

“Last year I used to come way later, but now if I don’t come [at 7:55] I can’t find any parking,” senior Simrita Advani said. “It’s supposed to be a ‘senior lot’ and ‘junior lot,’ not what’s happening now.”

Contrary to the recent complaints from seniors, Hernandez said that the senior lot does not seem to be more occupied by juniors than usual. He also said that the lots fluctuate in how full they are depending on class sizes.  

Hernandez added that he does not enforce the separation of the junior and senior lots. He believes that the tradition does not reflect real life, where people have to come early to get a good parking spot. He believes the seniors should come earlier if they want the front parking spots. 

Although Hernandez understands the high school dynamic between classes, he said that the seniors need to move past their complaints. 

“I understand the hierarchy, but it's really not that big of a deal,” Hernandez said. “You just got to park where there’s parking.”