Don’t force Ferrell Center parking on freshmen

Rewon Shimray | Cartoonist

By Denton Wood | Guest Contributor

Recently, I read an opinion piece (“Freshmen should park at Ferrell Center,” published Sept. 20) suggesting the idea that freshmen should take advantage of free parking at the Ferrell Center so that more parking would be available to upperclassmen who commute to campus. As a senior who still lives on campus (yes, we do exist), I found this argument interesting, so I thought I’d address it. Frankly, there are better solutions to cramped campus parking than asking freshmen to park on the opposite side of campus from where they live.

As the piece correctly states, on-campus parking is a nightmare. During my sophomore year, I made the mistake of attempting a Walmart run between my 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. classes one morning. Campus was so crowded when I returned that I only found parking in time because some gracious soul pulled out of a spot at the top of the Collins garage.

There is not enough parking for everyone who has a car. Everyone acknowledges this. It is also true that cars belonging to freshmen sit in parking lots, unused, for most of the week. However, so do cars belonging to residents of Park Place, The View and other apartment complexes near campus. Why? It’s convenient. No student, freshman or otherwise, wants to walk 10 to 15 minutes to use their vehicle. Nor are they going to call an after-hours shuttle or a security escort for a taco truck run. Four of the five campus parking garages are situated next to residence halls for a reason, and it would seem that the $360 for a parking pass is a lesser evil for many freshmen than the inconvenience of parking far away from where they live.

There are better solutions to this problem. Student government is the reason we have parking counters for the garages at all; encourage your fellow elected students to fight for more on-campus parking and other ways to solve parking issues. Carpool with your friends to campus to save the money you would have spent on gas for more important things — like Chick-Fil-A. You might consider the Ferrell Center yourself if you want to avoid paying $360 to fight with seven other students for one parking spot. College students are incredible at finding ways to beat the system on a low budget. Why does one of those solutions involve inconveniencing an entire demographic of campus?

If you still agree with the argument previously posted, rewind your mind back to freshman year. Imagine having to walk to the Ferrell Center to make an H-E-B run. Now imagine coming back with groceries in tow. Now imagine trying to go home for a weekend and lugging your suitcase and belongings across University Parks Drive during rush hour. It’s not safe, let alone feasible.

Ferrell Center parking was designed for students who want free parking during the day and have their own place to park at night. It is not reasonable to ask freshmen and others who do not have anywhere off-campus to park to permanently relegate their vehicles to the far corner of campus for the convenience of others (especially considering the message that sends to them). At night, everyone should be able to get to their modes of transportation in a timely fashion for any reason, whether you’re a freshman or a senior. Let’s fight for better campus parking together instead of blaming each other for the problem.

Denton Wood
Computer Science senior