U Has History of Parking Problems

By and

Times change. In its 120 years of existence, the University of Utah’s campus has grown from a few buildings surrounding Presidents Circle, to almost 1500 acres containing more than 300 buildings.

But some things do stay the same. According to Perry Sorenson, the U has always been a commuter campus. After attending the U from 1932 to 1936, Sorenson began serving as director of University Relations in 1946, then became a professor of communication in 1975. He retired in 1991.

Sorenson remembers students in the 1930s riding Salt Lake’s street car system up to 1300 East and 200 South, then walking up to the U.

Many students in those days lived in boarding houses surrounding the campus.

“There were dozens and dozens of homes around campus that took in roomers. A lot of students boarded with professors,” he said. “The professors made a little extra money by renting out their homes.”

Eventually, the U recognized the need for dormitories on campus, and in 1938, Carlson Hall?which currently houses the U’s History department?was built.

Everything changed after the end of World War II when a huge influx of veterans increased the U’s population by thousands, Sorenson said. Also, shortly after the war, Salt Lake disbanded its street car system.

When Boyer Jarvis arrived in 1955, married students were still living in old military housing where the Marriott Library currently stands.

“A lot of U students are not only married, but married with children,” said Jarvis, who worked first as an assistant and then as a professor of communication until 1989.

The demands of married students eventually prompted the U to build permanent married student housing south of the Veteran’s Hospital and north of Sunnyside Avenue, he said.

But still, most U students did not live on campus.

“There was a concern that students were not able to take advantage of all the things the U has to offer [by living off campus],” said Ray Haeckle, who served as head of U Legislative and Community Relations for 39 years, beginning in 1962.

“Students either walked, came by bus, or came by car,” Jarvis said.

In 1955, in an effort to convince more students to live on campus, Balliff Hall was built. Van Cott Hall followed in 1963 and Austin in 1964.

The U continues to try to convince incoming students to live on campus, said Admissions Director John Boswell.

“There has always been a recruiting effort for all students who have been admitted to consider the residence halls,” he said. With the erection of the new residence halls at Fort Douglas, the number of students living on campus has risen dramatically.

But no matter how many students live on campus, the U has always had to deal with parking problems.

“Parking has been an issue. The student body’s grown, but so has the parking. It’s been ongoing,” Haeckle said. “It can’t be solved.”

Over the years, the U’s parking situation has changed considerably.

Before the bookstore was built, students parked their cars in a lot west of the Union, and in the lot west of the football stadium, Jarvis said.

Since then, the U has tried a variety of solutions to heal its parking woes. Haeckle said a peripheral road was constructed around the campus to allow students to park their cars and quickly access any part of campus.

For a while, the U also experimented with holding more classes in the afternoon, so there would be fewer students on campus at a given time.

“Students didn’t want to take the afternoon classes,” he said. The administration found that most preferred to work in the afternoon, so the morning classes were reinstated.

The campus shuttles, which began running in the mid-’80s, were another effort to solve parking problems.

“It’s just the business of moving people around campus,” Haeckle said. As the U has expanded, students have been forced to park their cars further away from their classes. The shuttles allow people to park their cars further away and not move them.

Haeckle believes part of the problem may lie in the location of available parking places.

“There is always parking, just not as close as you want it,” he said. But he added that the upcoming Olympic Winter Games have aggravated the situation. “Now it’s a different situation with the Olympics?I hope light rail will eliminate part of the parking problem.”