School implements parking pass policy for largest graduation ceremony yet

No pass, no parking.

That’s the policy in place for this weekend’s spring graduation ceremony at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu.

We learned of this new parking procedure from a viewer who told us about it using the Report It feature on our website.

For the first time, each graduating student gets three passes to hand out. Everyone with a parking pass is guaranteed a parking spot.

But most likely there won’t be enough parking, because this spring commencement is West Oahu’s largest graduating class since its permanent campus opened in 2012.

This spring, 250 students out of 324 graduating students will walk, about 25 more than last semester. Last year, the school barely had enough parking spaces.

So school officials are requiring parking passes this time around. The rest of the remaining 400 spaces will go to security, volunteers, faculty, and staff.

“It’s to control the numbers for the health and safety of our families, for our guests, our graduates, people who want to come on campus and enjoy this great day,” said Leila Wai Shimokawa, UH West Oahu director of communications.

School officials say there is a parking lot and a gravel lot totaling 1,200 parking spaces.

KHON2 asked, are they looking at other options for additional parking?

“The commencement committee has been reaching out and doing its due diligence in finding the best alternatives, and right now, we feel the parking pass policy is what is going to work best for our commencement at this spring commencement,” Shimokawa said.

School officials say the open fields near Walmart and adjacent to the campus were costly and needed ground work to be able to park cars. The land would have to be compacted down or the cars would sink. Officials said Kapolei Golf Club declined their request.

As for the possibility of holding commencement elsewhere, Shimokawa said, “I think, again, for the size we are at for the spring commencement, this was the best option. People want to keep it on campus. We are proud of our campus.”

Officials say they have looked at locations such as Lanikuhonua Cultural Institute, Paradise Cove, Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium, Neal S. Blaisdell Arena, Aloha Stadium, Hawaii Convention Center, and Waikiki Shell, but the sites didn’t address their concerns or couldn’t accommodate the school. They even looked into having it at Kapolei High School, but that site would only provide 300 parking stalls.

“We are looking at other alternatives and maybe at the future commencements as we continue to grow, I think we will be looking at alternatives,” Shimokawa said. “We understand their concern. We have been trying to communicate to all of our students and their families that there is limit to their parking, and so we are trying to encourage carpooling and maximize the amount of passengers per vehicle.”

UH West Oahu will start construction on a new parking lot on campus that will add about 460 stalls. It is expected to start later this summer.

There is a wait list for students who want more parking passes if there are any left over. At last check, about 210 students have picked up their passes.

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