ASUU Circulates Petition, Calls for Parking Solutions

After hearing student complaint through phone calls and electronic feedback, the Associated Students of the University of Utah has gotten a message.

Enrollment increases, lot closures and Olympic slot snatching have created a parking problem that ASUU will try to answer in the coming months.

At the end of this week, ASUU will present a student petition to President Bernie Machen asking him to form a team of administration, student body and Parking and Transportation Services representatives to look at potential solutions.

“Their job is to put together a whole plan,” said Ben Lowe, ASUU president. The team will look at parking solutions at other universities, analyze the situation on campus and explore which options will alleviate the problem both in the short and long term.

The team which ASUU hopes to see assembled by Machen will differ from other parking related committees because it will have the advantage of support from the student body and a commitment from the administration?the first time a well-supported group will take a comprehensive look at the whole parking situation.

“Parking has never been looked at in a centralized fashion before,” Lowe said. “It’s a huge issue to take on.”

ASUU hopes student support behind this initiative will make implementing solutions easier.

“Students have never really put an organized push together,” said Jay Hart, ASUU chief of staff. “Parking has never been the number one priority.”

According to Hart, half of the student feedback he hears is related to parking.

“Suddenly students are now saying we need to do something,” he said. “There’s enough momentum building now.”

Student support is so important in this initiative because it will give ASUU the backing that they need to get Machen?s support.

“We want to show President Machen that students are serious about this,” Hart said. “If we just go to President Machen and say this is what students want, he’ll just say thank you. Signatures give us a lot more respectability.”

ASUU hopes to identify both long- and short-term solutions with this initiative. Ideas for solving the parking problem include park and rides, eliminating A lots and pay lots, more shuttles, lots further away from campus, carpooling and a parking structure. All of these potential solutions are just ideas that the team can further investigate and test the potential of.

“Our goal is not to say this is what we want to have happen,” Hart said. “We want to create a resolution together that lasts and sticks.”

The parking initiative will focus on realistic solutions that may take longer than many students wish it to.

“Unfortunately, we can’t find a solution tomorrow,” Hart said. “This is an issue that will take time and resources. If we do expect to fix the parking situation, we need to be patient and take a realistic approach.”

“It’s important that students are patient,” Lowe said. “The only way we’re going to make something happen is to do it realistically.”

ASUU hopes to get the support of the student body using a variety of methods to collect signatures and support. Throughout the week, the executive cabinet will be all over campus collecting signatures, explaining the parking initiative to students and encouraging student input.

ASUU has also set up a place on their Web site where students can enter feedback, add their names to a petition and learn more about the parking situation on campus. According to Colter Hammer, the public relations board director for ASUU, they are using the Web site because most students do not have time to discuss parking on their way to classes.

“The Web site will have a lot more detailed information,” he said.

The effort will also include posters, flyers designed to look like parking tickets and little cars on popsicle sticks that students can plant on campus, demonstrating their support.

Hammer anticipates their efforts will get about 5,000 signatures to support the initiative.

Once student support is collected, ASUU is confident that the administration will support its initiative.

“Their whole purpose is to look after the interest of students,” Hammer said. “Everyone knows there’s a problem, but what we need is student support.”

Because the initiative is focused on realistic solutions, parking services is in support of it.

“We look forward to working with ASUU on this, we certainly recognize that parking is a concern with everyone on campus,” said Norm Chambers, director of Auxiliary Services, who supervises parking services. Chambers hopes that the initiative will give students a chance to learn more about parking services and the difficulty of building and maintaining parking structures.

“Obviously it’s a good chance to educate people on how the system works and identify realistic options for the future,” he said “We’re not talking about a quick fix here, it’s one that will take time.”

Parking services has promised not to dismiss any ideas that ASUU presented through this initiative. They will investigate each option to ensure that all understand the consequences of each solution.

“I want to be sure that if we do anything, it is a beneficial move,” Chambers said.

Although the parking problem may not be solved tomorrow, ASUU hopes to find a solution to ease the situation of commuting students.

“We feel like there really are possibilities,” Lowe said. “It’s not a hopeless cause.”

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