OPINION: Parking is bad, who would’ve thought?

Ethan Leckie, Opinions Reporter

There are three constants at UNF: The Starbucks line will be long, the cold weather won’t come until November and parking will be impossible to find. I didn’t take any polls before writing this piece, but I will bet my bank account (not much, but still all I have) that the number one complaint the student body has is the complete lack of spaces for people to put their cars in on this campus. As both a car owner and a student, I agree.

This is my second year at UNF, but my first year bringing my car onto campus. Before making the trek up to Jacksonville for my second year, I thought that the “parking is bad” comments were overblown — indeed, everyone can find a parking space in a civilized, timely manner, I thought. Oh, how I was so woefully incorrect.

Rows of cars on top of the Arena Parking Garage
Completely full by midday, cars can be seen circling the Arena Parking garage looking for an open spot. (Justin Nedrow)

It’s a dog-eat-dog world in the 44A parking garage. I especially dread finding a space after rugby practices, which end at 10 p.m. At that point, not finding a space on the first and second floors is a foregone conclusion. In several of my classes, students are late, not due to reasons within their control, but because they simply cannot find a space before class starts. Add in the largest freshman class in school history, and this becomes a recipe for disaster.

All of this is not to say that I have hopped aboard the “Parking Services is bad” train- I haven’t. I’m sure that the staff at Parking Services are intelligent people who are well aware of the situation and the criticisms that have stemmed from it (and are also simply doing their jobs). However, when the lack of parking becomes an issue year after year, I begin to question whether UNF is taking the necessary steps to address the problem. In fact, they might be making it worse.

For the Fall 2022 semester, the Parking Advisory Council approved a 2.2 ratio to oversell Blue Lot permits (Gray permits don’t have a sales limit). There are 2,192 Blue Lot spaces on campus. Doing the math (2,192 times 2.2) means that Parking Services was allowed to sell 4,822 Blue Lot permits this semester. I understand that UNF is far from a nonprofit venture, but having an oversell ratio of more than double the number of spaces available, in conjunction with the consistent complaints about parking and enrolling the historic 3,155 freshmen on campus, is self-sabotage. 

Rows of cars in Lot 18
Students also have the option to park in Lot 18, packed full of gray spots, at the far north of campus. (Justin Nedrow)

Besides arriving on campus earlier (Which can be an issue for students who don’t have a class until the afternoon. No one wants to show up at 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning for a 3 p.m class.), one of the commonly-proposed solutions to our perpetual parking problem is to use the Gray Lots. Lot 18 is typically brought up as a good choice, considering how it usually has plenty of open spaces. Now, I’m no expert, but I believe that Lot 18 is open mainly because of the fact that it is the farthest parking lot from the core of campus (at least for students who use the Blue and Gray Lots). Even though Lot 18 is connected to the campus shuttle service, no student rushing to class wants to park so far away from where they’re supposed to be headed.

As of publishing, it is uncertain whether the university will provide any tangible solutions other than the ones already suggested. It is my humble opinion (and, I can safely say, the opinion of many others) that UNF makes a serious effort to provide all its students with adequate parking within a reasonable distance from campus. So, is parking bad? Well, yeah… for now.


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