If there’s one thing all UT students have in common, it’s a mutual disdain for the university’s parking situation.
No one likes hiking across campus because the only parking he/she can find is at Rocket Hall or choosing to be late for class since the West Ramp Parking Garage is overflowing.
In moments of desperation, students will risk parking tickets to make it to an exam on time.
This semester, these concerns have come to a head with a petition circling social media regarding UT’s subpar parking.
The petition has garnered over 2,500 signatures, prompting a response from the university.
In conjunction with UT Student Government, Sammy Spann, dean of students, hosted a forum Feb. 26 in which students voiced concerns to a panel of faculty members.
Faculty members responding to student concerns included Bonnie Murphy, associate vice president for auxiliaries; Sherri Kaspar, manager of public safety services; and Jason Toth, senior associate vice president for administration.
Before opening up the forum to students, Murphy addressed improvements that the university already made regarding parking, including the diversion of parking for large events away from congested areas of campus.
Murphy also said that the university has seen success in the implementation of Lime scooters on campus as an alternative method of transportation.
Kaspar added that there are 15,730 total parking spaces across Main Campus, Health Science Campus and Scott Park Campus, 8,655 of which are on Main Campus.
While student concerns during the forum ranged from accessibility issues to the elimination of military parking passes to security problems in the parking garages, the discussion focused heavily on the lack of parking close to busy areas of campus, including Centennial Mall.
While the IC understands the struggles associated with parking on campus, the panel presented some valid points.
For example, the construction of a new parking garage is not currently feasible. Murphy, Kaspar and Toth made clear that they were not ruling out the possibility of a new parking structure in the future. However, the university does not currently have the budget nor the space to accommodate another garage, especially in the busiest areas of campus.
According to Toth, adding levels onto existing structures is also not an option due to the age and structural integrity of the garages.
Yes, students pay a lot in fees to park on campus ($125 per semester), but that money must be allocated to current garages to keep up with maintenance costs.
Too, trying to add more spaces to campus to inch closer to a 1:1 student to parking spot ratio does not do much for efficiency. Having a space on campus for every single student does not make sense when students come and go throughout the day.
To be clear: There are spaces to park on campus throughout the day. According to Kaspar, the East Ramp Parking Garage has only been at capacity twice this school year.
Available spaces may not be as convenient during peak hours and are often on the south end of campus, including areas like Engineering Campus and Rocket Hall, but they’re there.
It may require the utilization of transportation services such as buses, scooters or bikes to make it across campus in a reasonable amount of time, but we have to work with what we have.
And, truthfully, if you know you won’t find a parking space behind the library at noon, just park somewhere farther away if you are physically able. You can spend the 20 minutes you would have spent circling the parking lot walking or biking to class.
Sure, parking isn’t ideal on main campus, and improvements can still be made. But, faculty should remain committed to addressing legitimate student concerns.