Off-campus students face poor parking options
Finding a parking spot on campus as an off-campus student is a bit like Black Friday shopping. People fight over the same product and I nearly get hit by angry competitors in the process.
While freshmen are required to spend at least one year living on campus, nearly 70 percent of University of Idaho students live off campus due to lower expenses and more personal freedoms. Yet, one of the biggest drawbacks to living off campus is the daily debacle of campus parking.
Parking for off-campus students is lacking in terms of space and price. I would not mind paying $172 for my red parking pass if I knew I actually had a chance of finding a satisfactory space without having to drive circles around campus for 20 minutes.
The parking options for off-campus students quickly disappear whenever major events happen on campus. Resorting to parking in a distant blue lot makes one wonder why they even paid a triple-digit fee for a parking sticker.
I can’t count how many times I’ve had to prowl around red lots — hearing the Jaws theme music in my head — as I faced other aggressive drivers. Typically, I look over to the half-empty gold lot and wish the $325 fee was more realistic for the average off-campus student.
UI faculty members are not much happier about having to pay to park at work. Many of my professors refuse to pay for campus parking. Some find parking off campus and while others bike or walk to campus. As a graduating senior who has held a red pass for two years, I often find myself wondering if I should have taken a similar path.
Overnight parking for off-campus students is only available with an extra $162 added to the price of a gold pass.
This is problematic for many students who have to park overnight on campus for an organization event.
When my bandmates and I returned from a trip with the Vandal Marching Band, many of us found $60 parking tickets on our cars. It was not a warm welcome home, to say the least.
Luckily, our director advocated to parking services on our behalf and the tickets were dropped.
The quality of the existing lots is an issue as well. Some of the parking lots have poorly maintained gravel lots, and the snow removal in the wintertime is often less than desirable.
UI Parking and Transportation Services needs to reevaluate how they allocate parking areas in relation to how they price parking passes if they wish to be of service to the students who do not live on campus.
For the money being paid by students, there ought to be more parking spaces available. I understand that revenue generated from passes and tickets funds parking facilities as well as auto services provided by the department. I am grateful for the times they have jumpstarted my car. But more needs to be done about improving parking facilities.
While demanding lower prices at this point is unrealistic, expanding the range of parking spaces available to students as well as the quality of those lots would be a welcomed improvement.
There is a Transportation Improvement Plan, which highlights some of these concerns. It does not elaborate on when, how or what priority level any of these potential projects are.
If there is no change in the parking situation on campus, students will continue to hope the odds are ever in their favor as they fight for spaces.
Shannon Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org