On campus parking continues to frustrate students

Colin McCann

Video by Andy Castro

Any student that drives on campus knows of the parking wars that are fought before even entering the classroom. A forum was hosted by Student Government on Aug. 30 to talk about parking.

The purpose of the forum was to discuss problems with parking and allow students and the public to bring up additional concerns, which would be further discussed in a meeting later this month. It was lead by Student Body President Samantha Mims, Vice President Cole Poppell, and Student Advocate Amelia Stark. 

Parking on campus has been a hot button issue for both students and teachers. This includes the lack of availability in blue lots, the cost of parking, backing in permits and safety concerns.

Regarding the lack of available blue lot parking spaces, many students questioned the reasoning behind selling more parking permits than there are available parking spots. According to Poppell, the university sells 2.3 permits per parking spot. George Androuin, the director of Business and Parking Services explained that there are different factors in the making of this decision, and that there is a limit to the amount of permits sold. Class scheduling suggests that not all students who have a blue lot pass will be on campus the same day and time.

The first week is always chaotic. Students and faculty don’t always park in the right lot, and many people are on campus for reasons other than classes. Androuin stated that after the second week, during which parking tickets are issued, people begin to park in the lots that correspond with their permit.

This is around the time when parking becomes more of a routine, and therefore less chaotic. During the fourth week of school, the UNF parking staff begins doing lot counts. During this time, the amount of available parking throughout the week is recorded to determine any problems with availability or overcrowding.

One issue, which has not been decided on yet is if students who were forced to park in a different lot due to overcrowding will receive reimbursement for tickets.

A citation issued by UNF parking enforcement. Photo by Ronnesha Rodgers

Another issue is UNF faculty and staff members parking in the blue lot, taking spots away from students.

Androuin stated that this happens during the first week, but will lessen over time. Faculty and staff members are also encouraged to park on the first floor of the Fine Arts and Arena Parking Garages, where there are spots specifically reserved for faculty.

Senior and Osprey Productions Director Rachel Bryant, said that students specifically pay more for blue permit parking passes in order to be closer to their classes. Despite the higher pay, many students end up having to park in gray lots and take the shuttle into campus. This, in her opinion, should not be the case.

In addition, to ensure that students who commute to campus have a spot to park, students living in The Flats are not authorized to buy a blue lot permit. This is because of The Flats’ proximity to the school and the presence of a shuttle system. Students living in The Flats are, however, allowed to buy gray lot parking permits.

Regarding the cost for parking, one student inquired as to why there are not different prices for day passes, depending on the amount of time the student will be on campus. As of now, the day pass costs $5. The price, however, cannot be changed, because there is no way to track the amount of time a car is in a parking spot. Compared to fall of last year, there were less day passes being sold during the first week of school. This semester there have been about 50 passes sold daily.

In order to save students money, increase parking staff efficiency and decrease labor costs, a license plate system was put into effect earlier this month making all parking permits virtual . The parking staff is now able to determine if a student has a parking pass based on their license plate. Students can no longer back in unless a backing in permit is purchased for $50. Backing in without the pass is prohibited, because it forces the parking staff to exit their vehicle to see the license plate. This system has left many students outraged.

Back-in parking would result in a citation under the new policy without paying the $50 a year for backing in. Photo by Mark Judson

Gordon Richards, a senior communication major, who’s also a professional driver, thinks it’s unsafe for larger vehicles to park nose in. Being able to only park nose in to Richards seems like “discrimination.”

“[The] geometry of the vehicles, make it a nightmare to pull in forward,” said Richards, who drives a 1 ton crew cab dually.  “Some vehicles are not designed to be pulled in forward. It’s a safety issue…it’s simply not a safe thing to do.”

In Richards’ opinion, students who simply want to back in for fun is different than the students who have to back in for the safety of themselves and others. The students who have to back in, pay for a pass like everyone else, and in order to park safely, they are penalized another $50, according to him.

According to Androuin, there are around 50 out of more than 16,000 students who have backing in permits. Both Bryant and Richards believe $50 for a backing in permit is just too much, however, this will not change any time soon. Androuin pointed out that students have already been fined for backing in, so making any changes now would be unfair to them. Changes may potentially occur as soon as next semester.

There are also many safety concerns when it comes to parking. In the past, students have been harassed and even physically assaulted, and their cars have been vandalized. Students can become hostile and aggressive when parking, because of the number of people who are in a rush for class and the lack of available parking spots. Currently, there are no surveillance cameras in the parking garages, and many people believe there should be. Others suggest a higher presence of UNFPD checking speed.

Last year, speed bumps were added to the first floor of the Arena  parking garage. However, more speeds bumps may be added in the future in order to decrease the amount of students speeding through the garages.

There are ways to avoid the chaotic process of finding a parking spot. The average amount of time it takes to find a spot in crowded lots is around 30 minutes. That time could be cut in half by parking in gray lot 18 and taking a shuttle. Prime time for parking is from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Mikayla Perriere, a freshman and Foreign Language major, believes that the SG and Parking Services are doing what they can to keep everything fair, and “the best they can do is just listen to everyone’s problems.” She suggests that anyone who is having a problem should approach SG or Parking Services about it.

In Bryant’s opinion, the lack of a forum in 2016 is the reason we are in this predicament now.

“[Safety concerns] should be top priority for the university,” Bryant said. “Although it doesn’t appear to be the case.”

She believes SG and Parking Services touched on the possibility of future solutions, but never approached the topic of how to solve current problems now.


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