How do we define our generation? Will we be defined by our great technological advancements and innovations? Will we be remembered for our success in our enterprise to end world hunger and bring worldwide peace? Or will we be held back by a reputation for horrendous parking?

Now, I don’t have a car with me this semester, so I’m not directly affected, but on my way to class I have noticed a significant drop in the student body’s parking performance. Multiple times I have seen cars parked too far over the lines to be tolerated, forced to remain in cringe-worthy positions because drivers failed to respect the very lines on the road that give society order.

Still, I think I can sympathize with the drivers who defy the parking code. I get it, a couple inches over the line isn’t going to hurt anybody, right? Or maybe the parking job was done in a rush and in the heat of the moment there was no time to correct for minor mistakes. But this is bigger than being an aesthetic problem. This is an identity problem.

Attending a liberal arts school like Trinity connects students with each other on our pursuit of becoming well-rounded individuals.  In fact, Trinity University has made it clear that part of its goal for students is to seek the highest level of excellence in “learning, service, leadership and personal integrity.”

Parking is the opportunity for us to put this idea into practice. First and foremost, we must learn  how to park. We’re young drivers, so we’re still learning to perfect the art and craft involved in maneuvering a two-ton vehicle into a certain position. But, this doesn’t make it any less important to know than the subjects we are taught in class. It won’t be easy to develop this skill either, and like all learning, this problem will not be solved overnight. After we have brought our skills to an acceptable level, we must also understand that there will always be some days in which people fail to meet the community’s parking standard.

In the process of learning, we must understand how parking takes leadership and is a form of community service.  Parking starts improving once people take the initiative to lead by example. It is a kind of leadership that affects people long after the deed is done. An excellent parking job will shine in the parking lot and cause other drivers to look at it and say, “Damn, that is one beautifully positioned monster truck in between those two white lines! I wish I could do that!” It seems trivial, but abiding by the lines can make someone’s day a million times easier than if they had to deal with parking next to a savage.

And perhaps above all, the way we park is a message to represent our personal integrity. A bad parking job can say, “Hey, I don’t care about others,” while a good one can suggest the driver actually acknowledged the difficulty of parking in a certain spot and made an effort to keep society civil and orderly. Although most cars around Trinity don’t identify who their driver is, they do leave a message about what that person is like — if we see a horrendously parked car on campus, then we have to live with the idea that we may live in a dorm or go to a class with the person responsible for such a monstrosity. So, if we can still save our generation and define who we are, let us at least go down in history as one that knew how to park.