The U’s Parking Problems Could Be Solved With Better Dorms

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The U has so much to offer its students, from academics to extracurriculars. And since it’s joined the Pac-12, it’s been pushed to up its game both on and off the field. However, while it is making great strides in a number of areas, there are a few concerns regarding parking on campus and student housing that I think deserve attention.

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People seem to complain about the problem of parking on campus nonstop. Believe it or not, parking lots are actually being bulldozed to make way for new buildings. And while it’s nice to have modern, upgraded spaces for classrooms and such, students who commute are finding it nearly impossible to locate open parking spots associated with their campus permits.

Sam Thaller, a student in the school of business, said he has to pay for private parking frequently because the lots covered by his permit are completely full when he arrives on campus after work. He says that unless someone arrives either early in the morning or late at night, there is not a great chance that they’ll find free parking, despite having paid for a parking pass. With the high cost of tuition these days — especially with the added cost of commuting — it just doesn’t seem fair that students should have to put money into expensive parking after paying for a campus parking pass.

Next comes the issue of student housing. It’s a fact that top-notch student housing is an excellent recruiting factor for universities. Many students come from high living standards, and it seems they’re finding it more and more difficult to give up the single rooms, large beds, private bathrooms and flat-screen televisions they’ve grown up with at their parents’ houses. Because of this, universities around the country have found themselves developing expensive and desirable housing for students in order to compete and generate appeal. And, to me, it seems as though the U is a little behind the national trend, which could potentially harm its ability to recruit students in the future. We have little student housing compared to many universities, and the honors dorms are arguably the only student housing that measures up to a competitive national level.

Some may argue that it is too expensive for a university to spend money on lavish student housing. But according to Inga Saffron, a writer for New Republic, it is actually not too expensive to upgrade and develop student housing when a university hires a private developer rather than handling developments on its own. Saffron instructs universities to “save money by outsourcing the non-academic stuff. It’s much easier to lease a piece of campus land to a developer than to undertake an arduous fund-raising campaign to pay for a new dorm.” Such a move by a university, Saffron reports, is “20 percent cheaper: Private companies are able to shave $16,000 off the per-bed cost in their student residences.”

The U is what some may consider a “commuter school,” meaning that most students commute from home and do not live on campus, unless their residence is out of the state or country. I believe that if the U had a greater abundance of desirable on-campus, or even off-campus housing built privately but managed by the university, fewer kids would choose to commute to class by car. This would make us a more up-to-date and competitive university nationally, while also solving the parking issue that has so many students worked up.

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