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Campus Joe

“Campus Joe” is a biweekly column from Oracle columnist Joe Polito that explores random spots on USF’s campus. How does it work? Polito throws a dart at a large map and goes there to find a story.

This week, my dart landed off the beaten path in the area of the College of Public Health, located on the northwest side of campus by Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

When my roommate saw where the dart landed, he began a long rant about a common USF complaint: parking. He refers to this area as “the ninth circle of USF parking hell.”

I rode my bike over Thursday afternoon searching for a story. When I got there, to my surprise, I saw little to no parking problems. Based on my visit, cases of “can’t-find-a-spotitis” are far worse in the lots near the Business Administration building, USF Library and Cooper Hall.

I must have arrived in the eye of the storm — a calm between classes. And I was right.

After hanging out for a while, the lots began to fill up. Eventually, Banyan Circle, which encompasses the area, began to look like all the other parking areas on campus: a collection of cars circling, with students looking for spots.

One girl walked up holding a Starbuck’s cup, ranting to someone on her phone about having to walk so many miles to get to her car and wondering why USF doesn’t do anything to help students.

Maybe she really thinks USF doesn’t care about having adequate parking for students. But I think they have such a hard time finding a spot because they only allow themselves 10 minutes travel time to get across campus and scour the concrete desert to find one.

In reality, the campus provides plenty of options. The University offers housing for those who can’t commute. For those who can’t live here, they offer a multitude of buses, lots and garages. They also offer a discounted permit for a bus lot, where students can park and ride the Bull Runner to class.

USF is not only a place for school, but it’s a place for work. Employees of the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Mothers and Babies, Florida Mental Health Institute and the USF Physical Plant park in this area every day.

If student parking were free, problems would be worse. If we made more room for parking spaces, buildings such as these, which provide medical help and comfort to visitors, would have to be cleared.

Personally, it’s encouraging the University focuses more on things like research and providing services to patients than pulling all its resources to ensure every single person has a parking spot.

Imagine: “The University of South Florida, the No. 2 parking university in the country.” Now, there’s something to brag about.

Maybe I just don’t understand because I ride my bike.

I get to class faster than my friends who drive cars, and I lock my bike wherever I want. I don’t get a ticket for chaining it to the rail right outside my classroom. It’s great, and I completely recommend it to cure your parking blues.

My point is simple: there are a lot of things the university could improve but there are a lot of things that would fall by the wayside if these improvements were made. Let’s let the whole parking thing go.