The start of the 2024 spring semester has brought Samford University’s ambitious Samford Horizons construction plan off the blueprint and onto campus. The construction is in its first phase, known as Fidelitas, and its effect can be seen both on central campus in front of Vail Hall and on west campus in front of the Tri Delta House.
Samford Horizons is the university’s plan to accommodate Samford’s growing number of students by building additional housing units and parking spaces on campus. An official announcement from President Beck Taylor on the university’s website states that the construction “includes a new 513-bed residence hall for first-year students, two smaller residence halls totaling 140 beds for upper-division/Greek students, and an approximate 600-space addition to the north parking facility.”
According to Jeff Poleshek, Samford’s assistant vice president for construction, masterplanning and operations, the project schedule is as follows: construction for the three new residence halls began in December 2023 and is estimated to be finished in the fall semester of 2025. Additionally, construction for an all-new parking deck will begin during the summer of 2024, and conclude around the same time as dorm construction in fall of 2025.
Student response to the campus’ growing environment has been mixed. Some, like seniors Madison Locke and Madeline May, have nuanced insight into Samford’s parking dilemmas, having worked in the transportation services department before.
“Striking a balance between maintaining order and accommodating the changing and dynamic needs of the student body in conjunction with the broader campus events adds layers of complexity to the parking management process,” said Locke.
May agreed, listing specific examples where her inside knowledge helped her handle certain situations with understanding.
“Working in transportation was always a fun environment,” May said. “There were instances when writing tickets where people would get angry and yell at us, but these incidents were handled very well by the department.”
Other students, such as Ash Currier, a west campus resident, are unhappy with the seeming lack of parking, understanding and commitment to remedy from transportation services.
“For how expensive Samford is, we should have ample parking,” said Currier. “It’s bad enough that if I want to go off campus past 8 p.m., I leave campus knowing I will not be able to find a parking spot when I get back.”
Poleshek and Chief of Police Tommy Taylor both agreed that west campus residents are facing the brunt of campus’ parking problems.
“I think those are the students that I see that are most impacted. And certainly because that’s where a lot of the construction is taking place,” Taylor said. “So I get it because I feel for those students.”
For on-campus residents, it does not seem that Transportation Services has any immediate remedies planned besides Poleshek’s previously described parking initiatives.
“While Transportation Services strive to uphold communicated standards, convenience isn’t always the priority,” Locke said.
However, both Taylor and Poleshek offer their convenience, communication and sympathy to students struggling with parking and safety.
“I do want students to know that we truly try to take every measure we can, not only to give them as convenient parking as possible… but also to make sure that, from a public safety standpoint, we do everything we can to make sure that the campus remains safe,” said Taylor.
In an attempt to make campus parking more accessible to on-campus residents, Poleshek shared that much of construction personnel has already been moved off-site as they conduct their work.
“We are constantly trying to shift people off to allow students more spaces,” said Poleshek. “As the construction sites shift a lot, we’ve got to shift with them and let you guys know.”
Poleshek further emphasized the details listed in the Samford Horizon’s timeline posted on Samford’s website, but also his willingness to personally communicate with students one-on-one.
“I mean it affects all students, faculty and staff, but there may be particular students affected like at Tri Delta, right? I’m happy to come meet with the Tri Delta house and sit and listen,” said Poleshek.
He further acknowledged the fluidity and importance of personal communication because of the ambiguity left in the description of Horizons on Samford’s website. On the Samford Horizons timeline, it reads, “Parking deck behind Vail and Smith Residence Halls reopens” in fall of 2025. However, that parking deck was never scheduled to close.
“We want to make sure that it’s clear that [the North parking] deck isn’t closing,” Poleshek clarified.
Taylor and Poleshek both emphasized their willingness to communicate with students in order to solve the problems they are facing.
“Certainly, I can tell you from our side of the house, we’re going to work with whomever we can to help them,” said Taylor. “If they’ll reach out, we’ll work with them.”
Transportation Services has not responded to the Crimson’s inquiries at this time.