Freshmen, beware: Parking should be a privilege

Anybody who stayed at the University of Miami over the course of Hurricane Frances surely saw the same breathtaking natural phenomenon: empty spaces in the parking lots.

It seems that every semester at UM starts with a parking problem, and the 2004-05 academic year is no exception, with what seems to be an exponentially increasing number of vehicles attempting to squeeze into what looks like a significantly smaller number of spaces. The result is many unhappy students who all have to deal with exhausting distances from car to class prolonged by butter-thick humidity.

So as always, loyal Ben Minkus readers turn to this column space for a sufficient strategy to change the situation. And luckily, I have one; otherwise, you would have just wasted the past minute reading my little intro.

So, here it goes.

Freshmen should not be allowed to have cars on campus.

Hold on now, freshmen. I know what you’re thinking: it isn’t fair to point fingers at the freshmen-everybody parks, regardless of age, so if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Wrong! At many colleges, including the University of Florida, parking is on a seniority-based system, meaning that the students further in their studies get the better spots in the closer lots. Under such a system, freshmen would park in the garages while upperclassmen attended their mainly attendance-based classes free from the ritual of arriving fifteen minutes early and stalking students leaving the classroom buildings. In turn, the university creates a cycle whereby every student’s parking situation improves over the course of his or her academic career.

Another more extreme system would be to forbid freshmen from bringing a car to the university, period. This would make certain events, such as concerts and the upcoming presidential debates, less of a parking hassle. More importantly, it would keep club-hopping freshmen on campus to explore the various opportunities the school has to offer, from organized activities to active organizations.

So, all we have to do as a student body is collectively push Student Government to pass this idea for next school year.

And freshmen, if that doesn’t sound like much fun to you, consider this: You’ll be sophomores next year.

Ben Minkus can be contacted at