After classes end and most of the activities are done for the day, a majority of vehicles in USF’s Collins Boulevard Parking Facility leave.
But the garage is not empty by 9 p.m. USF students and groups use the large empty space at night for various activities.
Two of the most frequent are “car meets” and “hopping.”
Ravie Makati, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences, hosts monthly get-togethers on the roof of the parking garage called “car meets.”
Students from USF and the University of Tampa park their cars and socialize about different aspects of their vehicles.
It’s not all about the “car talk,” though, Makati said.
“I wanted to join a group to meet up with other car people,” he said. “I wanted to share interests and didn’t see anything (at USF) for cars.”
Once a month from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., about 20 cars line up on the top floor of the garage. Attendees open their car hoods and talk rims, engines and the variety of cars.
Every model of car is welcome, Makati said, and anything from Volkswagens to Hondas usually show up.
In 2008, the group met every week but it slowed to once a month. There was a good turnout, Makati said, as about 18 cars showed up for the first meeting and the second one had around 20 to 22 cars.
For the November meet nearly 50 cars showed with students from UT and USF.
Amanda Gallo, a non-USF student, said she “comes for the fun.”
“You meet interesting people,” she said. “It’s a place to hang out.”
The group also has a Facebook, which is how John Abraham, a senior majoring in management information systems, discovered the car meets. He said he enjoys seeing all the different modifications people make to their vehicles.
“I like coming here because there are a lot of different people with different tastes,” he said.
Derek Witkowski, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences, met Makati earlier in the semester through a student organization and realized they had similar interests: their major and most importantly, cars.
“I want to do something with cars. Eventually I want to build my own car,” he said. “That’s what the American dream is all about.”
The vacant space on top of the garage creates enough room for “hopping.”
The Omega Psi Phi fraternity has about 70 students, but as they practice their hopping, an organized dance form, on the roof – their numbers grow. Students, recent graduates, graduate students and advisers help out.
“If we’re not (at the garage), we’re at someone’s house,” said Markee Duncan, a graduate student in civil engineering. “We’re more than just a fraternity – we’re friends.”
Besides hopping, the group also yells a scripted chant.
“We have such high standards for anything we do,” said Jean Vixamar, a USF alumnus who frequently attends practices. “We try to achieve the highest level of accomplishments. We do our best to achieve anything. Anything that we do in life we try to (achieve) the highest lever of expectations.”
The hopping group practices Monday to Friday before an event. The practices in October and November prepared the group for a homecoming performance in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom on Nov. 13.
Marvin Peoples, a USF alumnus, said practice is more than work.
“We are preparing ourselves for our performance but we are also bonding,” he said.
Skateboarders occasionally go down the ramps between floors. During the recent Lenoid Meteor shower, student groups could be found on the fifth floor waiting for the sky to light up.
Whether it is because of the ample space, panoramic campus view or evening breezes, the Collins Boulevard Parking Facility attracts students and visitors long after the school day is over and parking spots are empty.