OPINION: USF will build anything but a parking garage despite students begging

Students are struggling to find parking on campus, and USF should show effort to improve parking infrastructure. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

Parking on campus is seen as a living nightmare by some students, in no small part thanks to the return to campus post-COVID and USF welcoming its largest freshman class to date this fall, according to USF Newsroom

USF appears to be completely ignoring the parking problem students have been decrying, instead opting to continue breaking ground on new buildings across campus with no parking spots to match, disregarding the time, money and safety of students.

The cheapest student parking permit is $91 a semester. Even after paying, it’s possible students still won’t be able to find a spot, considering USF oversold permits by over 25%, according to an Aug. 31 Oracle article.

When asked by The Oracle if the search for parking makes it difficult to attend classes and on-campus events, 42% of the 166 USF students polled said always and 36% said often.

“Parking at USF is a nightmare,” Victoria Gonzalez, a junior health sciences major, said.

“The university charges an obscene amount of money to park on campus to then over-sell passes and tickets to students,” she told The Oracle on Oct. 5.

Biomedical sciences senior Rian McCloskey feels USF hasn’t done its part to accommodate the recent onslaught of freshmen who park on campus. This is his fourth year at USF, and the traffic is the worst he’s seen.

Of the students polled, 74% have had an unsafe experience with a vehicle on campus due to traffic congestion.

“I have seen people make illegal turns on the roads, cut people off, almost hit pedestrians and become enraged all out of desperation to find a spot and make it to class on time,” health sciences freshman Alexa King told The Oracle.

Parking may become even more of a privilege on campus in the future. With the construction of an on-campus football stadium on track to be completed in 2026, USF said that the currently available parking will be enough to fit all gameday visitors, as there are fewer students on campus on the weekends.

“We are considering available parking and traffic flow in the site selection process and project planning. Most home football games are played on Saturdays when more parking is available on campus than during the week,” according to the USF website.

The $47 million Judy Genshaft Honors College Building is also slated to be completed by spring 2023. Not only will the new building cause more student traffic to campus, the honors college expects to grow from 2,400 students to 3,000, according to the USF website. The plans do not account for additional parking.

USF leaders are making big plans to expand but have yet to address one of the major infrastructure issues that is not only inconvenient to students and staff but is hazardous. 

If USF is going to continue its attempts to attract people to the university, they need to give them somewhere to park their cars.