Parking is out of control

While students living on campus don’t have to give it much thought, the stress involved in finding parking spaces is a daily ordeal for commuter students. Those living on campus can wake up fifteen minutes before class, scurry out of bed, maybe take a quick shower, throw some clothes on, sprint to class, and still make it on time.

By contrast, commuter students have to account for traffic (for both coming to and leaving campus), possible accidents, and have to set aside at least 20 minutes to find parking. And even if a student finds a spot eventually, it’s likely the only spot available is on the other side of campus, adding another 10 minutes to walk to class.

Comedian Steve Hofstetter once pointed out the two constants in any university: bad food and bad parking. At UM, parking has gotten progressively worse over the years. The situation is such that the university has resorted to covering green areas by the UC with gravel to use as makeshift parking lots.

Has it really come to this? The Department of Business Services knows how many parking spaces they have, and they know how many passes they’ve sold. They know parking’s a mess, and despite the university’s best intentions, adding gravel parking lots has obviously not relieved this problem.

Has the university focused so much on building fancy new student centers and school additions that they’ve neglected to fulfill one of commuting students’ basic needs? This isn’t the only area the university’s struggled with-for a while, it was (and still is) a lack of housing. So there are too many students to live on campus, and too many students need to park on campus-is the university biting off more than it can chew? And at least freshmen are guaranteed housing on campus. A good parking space (or in some cases, any parking space) is not guaranteed across the board.

And on top of that, faculty has to pay for parking. The very faculty who get paid by the university to prepare the student body for the future, conduct important, ground-breaking research and overall enhance the community, has to pay the university back in order to compete with every other student on campus for that one good parking spot. That, in and of itself, is a mess.

The situation could have been easily prevented with a little planning and foresight on the university’s side. Now, as the problem progressively worsens with each passing year, it is necessary, more than ever, for the university to explore its options to alleviate this stressful situation.