Driving to school can be a hassle, especially during morning traffic. However, nothing can compare to the nightmare of trying to park on the University of Utah’s campus. With over 30,000 students attending the U, as of Fall 2017, it’s no wonder parking has become a problem. Parking passes are available for purchase from the university, but their prices are absurd, and even if one is purchased — that does not guarantee a parking spot. Students are constantly struggling to find parking with or without a pass, and as a result, grades are suffering and pockets are being unfairly picked.
Prices for passes range between $70 and $600 for students. Motorcycles have the advantage of lower priced passes at $70; however, cars range between $150 and $600. The parking lot you wish to park in determines your price range. For most students, that depends on where their classes are located. Most of the parking on the U’s campus is for “U” parking permits, which is $250 for a yearly pass. For starving college students already drowning in student debt, this is quite a lot to ask for on top of textbooks, room and board and the rising cost of tuition.
Mallory Todd, a graduate student at the University of Utah, says that “the parking situation is really a joke. Parking permits are absurdly priced, and the available lot is still a shuttle ride away from anywhere.” Not only are parking passes expensive, but the parking lots are incredibly far away from central campus. Even if one pays the price for a pass, it is still a hassle to get to class, no matter which lot you choose. As a result, many students are late to class and miss important information, no matter how early they leave. Parking is a guessing game. One never knows if a spot will be available and where.
Students are not the only ones to complain about parking prices. One of University of Utah’s full time professors, who wishes to remain anonymous, shares the shocking truth of his parking pass: “Just to give you some perspective, I pay $1,700 a year for a reserved spot. Yes, you read that correctly.” This price has also been confirmed by Parking Services at the University of Utah. A professor, hired by the University itself, has to pay that outrageous price each year just to park at his workplace. Forgive me for being bold, but I don’t see how that is fair, especially for an employee. No matter where this parking permit allows him to park, in a student lot, or a personal spot a few blocks away from work, $1,700 a year makes the U’s parking services seem a bit too greedy when it comes to prices.
Where does all this money for passes go, you might ask? According to a University of Utah Parking Service employee who wishes to remain anonymous, it goes to repainting lots, new signs, fixing pot holes and building new parking garages. However, she admitted that “most of our garages are on upper campus and don’t really help lower campus.” As many students are aware, lower campus is where the Union, Marriott Library and main general buildings are located. In a nut shell, it’s where most students reside during any period of the day. How is it that our expensive permit money, from both students and employees, is being used to build parking garages that are too far away for most of us to use, and likely don’t accommodate permits available to us?
There are those of us who absolutely will not, or cannot, pay the fee for a parking pass, and as a result have to find somewhere else to park farther away from campus. Since the university is next to Salt Lake City, the heart of the state of Utah, parking can be even more of a headache.
Many students have confessed to parking in “secret areas” on campus that are, in fact, illegal. However, in order to make it to class on time — and to save a ridiculous long walk to campus — they find it is worth the risk of a possible ticket. Kaitlyn, a senior at the university, shares that she has a “secret spot” on campus. People have warned her that she will be towed for parking there. However, it has not happened. As a result, she continues to park there. In addition, Rachel Horman, a sophomore at the U, says, “I use a secret parking spot that is technically illegal, but I’ve never gotten a ticket. It’s just annoying when others take my spot and I have to pray there’s an open space in the two hour parking.” Secret spots do exist on campus. However, students can’t get away from tickets for long, and, of course, not everyone can find one.
Parking is a stressful situation that needs to be focused on and resolved. The constant battle for a parking spot is not a fair game, but is instead a game of chance and timing. Unfortunately, it is a game that is commonly lost by students and the prize is more money for the school’s parking services that are not fully benefiting students. As students and employees of the University of Utah, we deserve better. Perhaps we should open a discussion, since the university is constantly growing, to come to a solution that is fair for everyone.