Editor's note: This column was submitted to the Texan by a member of the UT community.
As big as campus is, you’d think you could find a decent place to park in the evening to visit with friends without the burden of spending money. Unfortunately, with UT’s required parking permits and pesky parking meters, most students will resort to paying the irritating fees that would be better spent on textbooks or a quality meal. Although the idea of universal free parking on campus is great, I know we live in a capitalistic society, so that’s not what I’m proposing. What is realistic, however, is allotting free parking on campus streets between the evening hours in which students are most active.
As a student at UT, I pay a heavy sum of money to receive a quality education and college experience. The National Association of College and University Business Officers states the “revenue that a college or university receives from student tuition helps fund some … of an institution’s educational expenses,” which includes the building of “classrooms, laboratories, libraries, housing, dining, athletic facilities, performing art spaces, etc.” With the birth of new buildings students pay for through tuition springs the construction of more parking lots that students must then pay again to use.
I’m a reasonable person, and my simple request is that the next time I have lacrosse practice in the evening at Caven-Clark Field, I don’t have to bring my wallet with me just to pay the parking meter for an hour. After all, my money isn’t serving any purpose but paying the salary of the person who’s handing out the tickets. The main purpose of parking meters is to ensure parking turnover, but by that time of day most students have left campus, and there’s no need to worry about turnover because there are dramatically fewer cars on campus.
In the evening hours, there are also fewer people willing to walk around the area because it’s unsafe to do so. Hence, another reason students shouldn’t feel hesitant to drive because of the added fees that come with parking on campus. Luckily for me, I have gracious friends who drive me to and from practice as of late.
When I asked my teammates their thoughts about parking on campus, they were quick to disclose how frustrating it is to pay for parking when their intent is to indulge in activities that are meant to be free. A senior on my team told me she hangs out with her friends a lot in the evenings, and when they don’t want to spend money, they meet up in front of the LBJ fountain to play frisbee golf because it’s fun and free. Unfortunately, even free things have a price, and she and her friends have to pay the parking meters just to engage in what should be stress-free outdoor activities.
As I mentioned before, eradicating all parking fees on campus is not the battle I’m fighting today. My fight is only a small incursion amid the ever-growing war against the increasing costs of higher education.
When considering a combination of factors such as students’ tuition helping to build the parking spaces in which they have to then pay for to use and the lack of parking turnover that occurs in the evenings, it’s a small request to ask that there be imposed a sensible time frame that would allow students to park on campus for free in the evening when students are the most active.
Pertuit is an Arts and Entertainment Technologies sophomore from Houston, Texas.