On Aug. 26, an SFA student posted a video of the row of cars that were parked with tickets on their windshield. This got a lot of attention from other SFA students, talking about how they don’t like the way the school handles tickets and their experience with getting ticketed with an unclear reason. Students also started tweeting at the school’s twitter account as well as replying to the Interim Vice President for University Affairs, Adam Peck and Student Body Vice President, Cathleen Young. Both Peck and Young assured that parking on campus is more reasonable compared to other universities. They also agreed that the Jack Track is a good shuttle to take. Even with these factors, including two new lots set to be finished in January of 2020 (lot 56 for commuters, and lot 60 for residents), are these offered solutions enough to fix the parking problem on campus?
Maybe the parking situation is tied to the set back of the construction on campus, since all renovations are set to finish around the 100th anniversary of the school. “In a time of decreasing resources, without that enrollment increase [that these renovations will hopefully bring in] we do not have ways to fund additional parking without taxing students more,” said Dr. Peck about why this is a recurring issue. That’s fair, since these projects do cost the school money. But what about student’s tuition costs? Is that not enough to cover the expenses for parking? According to documents provided by Executive Director of University Marketing Communications Shirley Luna, SFA has the second cheapest parking cost in the state ($112 to $145 per year), with the highest being the University of Texas at Arlington set at $180 per year. Sure, it’s cheaper than other independent schools, but most of the problem comes with the spaces provided.
One thing that always seems to be the answer, is to park in the commuter lot and take the Jack Track shuttle bus. That seems reasonable, especially when students have a lot of things to carry and would like an easy way to get around campus without difficulty. However, each person’s experience with the shuttle is different than the other. The school advertises Next Bus, which is on the SFA website as well as an app for phones that students can track and time when the next bus will come to the closest bus stop. Since last year, the website and the app have not updated the temporary routes. So that leaves students to stand at the bus stops and wait, not knowing how long it will be until the next bus comes. And, since these stops are outside, what happens when the weather is not in favor of the students and they are left waiting in either extreme heat, intense rainfall or icy winds?
There is also the possibility that shared lots are causing the parking issue. So far, there are about 14 lots for commuters, 20+ lots for faculty, and 10 lots for residents. Most of these lots are shared with the others. According to Luna, another faculty member said that they also have a hard time finding a space. So faculty also do not have it easy. Why not make more lots specific for faculty/staff and specific for commuters instead of having them combined? That way, there is less of a struggle for both students and staff. There are also paid parking lots, which are the Student Center Parking Garage and the Forestry Laboratories according to the parking map. Recently, the pricing went down for the Student Center parking garage to $200 per semester/ $435 for 12 months. Even with the decrease in price, $200 is still a good amount to pay for parking and could be used to go towards textbooks, housing, food and more.
We as students understand that the school is doing the best that they can with what they are given. With construction making things a little difficult to have a normal route it makes sense as to why parking has some setbacks. Students just want to know if our voices are heard and taken into consideration. Luckily, both Young and Luna have said that they have in fact dealt with some parking issues. Young, who was diagnosed with early arthritis behind her kneecaps and myalgia throughout the lower half of her body, was only given a temporary pass up to a week to have better parking when she was instructed by her doctor that she needed to be closer for four to six weeks. After eventually buying a handicap pass, she was able to use the Jack Track to her advantage. For Luna, she agreed that it is hard to try and get to campus early and she is guilty of coming in late. Even with both agreeing things aren’t always easier said than done, both insist that things are being taken into consideration behind the scenes. Yes, things cost money and yes, SFA students might have it easier compared to other universities, but the solutions given to the student body still feels like there could be more done. Will everything be perfect? No, and that goes for anything else. However, we as students have the right to voice our opinions and that will never stop, no matter how much we are told to take things with a grain of salt.