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Students take parking into their own hands

As the issue of finding a parking spot in a resonable amount of time on campus persists, students are implementing their own solutions. ORACLE PHOTO/CHAVELI GUZMAN

As students continue to struggle with finding parking, they are taking matters into their own hands and implementing solutions before university administration is able to.

Alex Tremper, a senior majoring in electrical engineering, decided to create a Facebook group with the purpose of notifying students of available parking on campus. Created Sept. 25, USF Parking Info has grown in popularity quickly, with over 130 members as of Oct. 8. 

“I was expecting it to fail miserably, because it’s kind of like a free-for-all for parking where if you get a parking spot, you tend to not care whether other people are getting a parking spot,” Tremper said. “I think that the growth of the page has shown that’s not the case.”

Students in the group are very active throughout the day, giving updates about where they are able to find that coveted spot.

Samm Gibbs, a sophomore majoring in integrative animal biology, is an active member. She said she joined the group to help save her some time searching for parking.

“I joined the Facebook group so I can get an insight into where to park so I’m not wasting my time driving around campus looking for a single spot that another 100 people are looking for,” Gibbs said. “It has been useful because it helps me gauge what time I need to get to campus and where I need to park.”

The group could save commuters valuable time when looking for a parking spot.

“This group needed to be created because there is an extreme lack of parking for commuters on the campus,” Gibbs said.  “Also, many lots that are available are across campus from where my classes are. Typically, there is parking in the Sun Dome, but when there’s an event, there’s really nowhere to park. I get to campus 2 1/2 hours early just to get parking. This group helps on giving me advice on where to park.”

Students on the page are responding positively and say they share the belief that something like this had to be done.

“Parking is atrocious,” Christopher Atkins, a junior majoring in cell and molecular biology, said. “I will easily spend 40 minutes driving around trying to find a spot, eventually resulting in me having to park in a spot I’m not supposed to.”

Although this group has been a great help, Atkins said more needs to be done by USF. 

“The group has been useful, but the parking issue is still a huge problem because the page is only helpful if there is parking available, which most times there isn’t,” Atkins said. “This group needed to be created to hopefully show the USF (administration) that this is a serious issue, and it is literally causing people to be late for class because they can’t find parking.”

Tremper said he hopes the USF administration will take notice and think of viable solutions for students. 

“Ultimately, I’m hoping the administration will respond by actually doing something about it, but if that doesn’t happen, which I’m not confident for, then hopefully the page will continue to grow,” Tremper said. “The more people you get in it (the Facebook group), the more information you’re going to have about parking.”

USF’s administration has heard commuter’s complaints and is working on solutions.   

Aaron Nichols, the assistant director of administrative services, said “Parking transportation services has, for a while now, been working with Student Government on some smart parking technology.”

Nichols said this new technology will involve utilizing car counters. Currently there is no timeline, but SG was recently provided with five possible vendors to install the car counters. 

“Basically, what the technology will do, there’s two different versions. One will just count cars as they go in and out of parking lots and parking garages,” Nichols said. “Another, slightly more high-tech, and of course, a little bit more expensive version, has a sensor in each space, so it could actually tell you what spaces are open within the garage or parking lot. 

“Student Government is going to review that and see what direction they want to go in. Initially, we’re going to focus on lots 29A and B, which are student only parking, as well as the Crescent Hill garage. We did the legwork and research and pushed it over to Student Government. I know it’s something they want to push out relatively quickly in this administration.”

As for the current solution of the Facebook group, Nichols said he thinks it’s a great idea, and with the technology planned, it would be even more useful in the future to develop an app. 

“Your time is valuable, even though you’re just a student, your time is still valuable,” Tremper said. “USF should care about that.”