by Gabriela Mendez & Leah Mize
The University of Tampa currently has a total of 3,492 parking spaces on campus and has sold a total of 4,443 parking passes so far, therefore exceeding the number of parking spots they currently have. From those 4,443 total passes, 3,234 belong to students and 1,060 are for general staff and faculty.
A limited number of parking spaces has been an on-going problem at UT for some years now, as the number of freshmen attending UT rises every year.
UT tried solving this problem in 2015 by not allowing freshmen to register for a parking pass, in order to stop them from bringing their cars on campus. Currently, only sophomores, juniors, seniors and faculty can register. Yet, this only solved the problem temporarily since the large freshman classes eventually became sophomores and has caused an increase in parking passes sold. This repetitive pattern of each incoming class has caused the problem of finding parking to worsen as well as traffic.
Students such as Meghan Rodgers, senior advertising major, finds that UT should start keeping up with the growth in the student population.
“Traffic won’t be as bad if the school can budget in all aspects for new students,” said Rodgers. “Not all of us can afford to move off-campus.”
This semester, UT tried to ease this problem once again by opening additional parking west of N. Boulevard to help reduce traffic during “peak periods”. These periods tend to be between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
In order to keep traffic flowing, Campus Safety has placed officers outside of the West Parking Garage to direct traffic in the afternoons.
“Every officer has the training to help direct traffic,” said Linda Devine, vice president of Planning and Operations at UT.
Devine said that traffic has caused heavy concern within the UT community.
Rodgers stated how “emergency vehicles won’t be able to get to anyone along N. Boulevard if something were to happen because the street is deadlocked from one until four.”
UT’s parking and subsequent traffic problem has also affected students academically.
“Finding parking during the day is extremely time-consuming, and I’ve seen students arrive late to class because they couldn’t get a spot,” said Ryan Radke, a sophomore allied health major.
Many students feel that UT has not done enough to solve this problem and doesn’t have parking at the top of their priority list.
Tyler West, sophomore entrepreneurship major, stated, “Building another parking garage should be the main priority for UT when solving this parking problem,” said West. “Instead of spending money on things such as spray painting grass green or spending thousands of dollars a year on trees.”
West and other students have voiced their opinion to UT as well as some potential solutions to combat this issue, which included building a new parking garage for students. Specifically, more students have voiced that UT should also build new dorms on-campus so students are not pushed off-campus as upperclassmen and required to commute daily.
Although, according to Devine, there are multiple factors that go into selecting locations for adding parking spaces such as, assigning spaces with interaction of streets, location of new spots, and of course schedules.
“Additionally, the process of issuing parking passes is not done on a matching basis,” said Devine. “The majority of people who have a parking pass do not need to park their vehicles here for 24 hours daily.”
However, when parking is minimal during the middle of the day, commuter students only need to park for a few hours minimum.
This situation beings another debate amongst students: it is unfair to only allow commuter students the first few floors.
West said he was annoyed at “The fact that commuter students get the first few floors.” West also stated that “[Commuter students] shouldn’t have advantages just because they choose to live away.”
Parking at UT will continue to be a problem for students and faculty as long as UT continues to ignore student opinion, yet it’s a problem that will hopefully be solved soon.
The assistant director of Campus Safety, Samuel Ponce, did not provide more details on the topic when asked.
Gabriela Mendez can be reached at email@example.com
Leah Mize can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org