The never ending journey: Finding campus parking

Driving through the Leroy Collins Parking Garage around 10 a.m. Monday it was easy to see that parking at USF had once again not been prioritized.

On the first day of classes Monday, there were 20 parking spaces blocked in the Collins garage, one of the busiest garages on campus with a ramp converted to one-way, exit only, adding to the ever-growing sense of frustration among students.

According to Aaron Nichols, the assistant director of communications, the spots were blocked due to a maintenance team doing some pressure washing to the garage.

“My understanding was they had the spots blocked off and before the garage even reached 50 percent capacity they had finished what they were doing and had moved on,” said Nichols.

However, at 10:30 a.m., the garage was at full capacity with cars lined up and down the ramps. The barricades remained standing, no workers in sight.

Any USF student could understand that 20 spaces in the first week of classes can make a difference. And this is just one of the many instances of students not having enough parking in high-traffic areas. So why has the parking problem been neglected time and time again?

In his campaign to become student body president, Chris Griffin used parking as one of his platforms to get elected. Now in office, he still sees improving parking on campus as one of his top goals.

This summer, through the Capital Improvement Trust Fund, Student Government (SG) raised $900,000 in order to fund their new parking improvements. Although the fund is made up of fees students pay at the beginning of each semester, it is a step in the right direction.

Still in the research phase, the project would bring a system that allows students to navigate through parking garages quicker. Either through an app or a sign displayed outside parking areas students would have the opportunity to know the best options for parking before they waste gas searching for a space.

These changes being brought forth by Griffin and SG are an improvement. However, the problem is not students wasting time and gas searching for a parking space but rather the lack of spaces available for the amount of students who need them.

According to Nichols, there are 11,904 “S” permit spaces on campus. USF sold 21,064 “S” permits for the combined 2015/2016 year and Spring 2016.

USF has first and foremost been a commuter school, but in the rush to shed its commuter image, it has forgotten that commuters made USF impressive in the first place. 

While new parking garages are part of the USF Campus Master Plan, they are entirely dependent on funding and do not appear to be a top priority for USF.

Matthew Mostrom, a senior majoring in chemistry, has learned to just accept the frustrating parking situation for what it is.

“I would always park in the Beard garage and usually I wouldn’t have to go above the sixth floor,” said Mostrom. “But I know near the Muma building and the library is really terrible. I could never find parking over there.”

His advice? Accept you’re going to have to walk.

“I always treated my car like those old wooden ships, like the galleons that couldn’t anchor on the beach. They’d have to use a longboat to get to shore. That’s how I use my long-board. It gets me from my car to my classes.”

It has become evident that USF it has lost sight of what is most important, the students. Especially the commuters who helped make this University what it is.

So, if you are a commuter headed to class in the peak parking hours of the day, grab a cup of coffee, get there a few hours before your class and enjoy your hunt for a parking space. You’ll more than likely be circling for quite a while.