The Daily Gamecock

Inadequate campus parking only getting worse

USC's continued ignorance presents costly problem for students

USC reached a milestone this semester by enrolling almost 32,000 students, which raises the question: Where are they going to park?
The university offers permits in garages for one semester, daily garage parking and meter parking, and a parking pass can be purchased for several commuter lots. A semester spot in a garage is only sold to a limited number of students, which leaves the rest of the parking spots on a first-come, first-serve basis that are often full before 8 a.m. and usually remain full until 5 p.m. Presently, these four options only provide parking for a fraction of the enrolled student population.

Speaking to alumni from 20 and 30 years ago, it seems parking has always been a problem this university chooses to ignore. Consequently, the issue has continued to escalate, with more hindrances arising than solutions.

The guaranteed parking garage passes provided are not affordable to many students. Additionally, the daily parking is full very early in the morning and doesn’t open until late in the afternoon. As for metered parking, it is nearly impossible to find a spot open, unless you know when classes are letting out and can nab someone’s spot just as they pull out.

Furthermore, commuter parking is a scam, because students are led to believe they are buying a parking spot, when in truth they are paying for the privilege to fight for a spot. Commuter students have arguably the most difficulty finding parking, especially after parking at the Carolina Coliseum was removed to make room for the new business school building.

Speaking of removed parking, virtually all of the metered spots on Assembly Street have been removed. Not to be outdone by themselves, USC periodically removes parking from students to accommodate athletic and special events. There is truly an endless supply of things to complain about when it comes to campus parking.
USC is also only hurting themselves by providing inadequate parking. Sometimes, the lots are filled so early that students often become frustrated and go home. David Culp, a second-year computer science student, said, “I had to buy a parking pass, which I assumed would buy me a parking space. My classes are not until 10:30 a.m., and if I don’t arrive by 7:45 a.m. to Bates, I can’t park. It is very discouraging having to pay tuition and not be able to attend class.”

Now that money has been brought into the argument, what exactly is the extra revenue from the tuition hike going to?
There is no security at these lots or the garages. Are we paying for the people sitting in front of the lots to tell us when the lots are full? I have seen these people watching TV and reading the paper. Is our tuition going toward that effort? What instruments are they using to figure out there is no parking available?
While parking is out of hand, there are remedies available that could be implemented immediately. For one thing, the university should actually reduce the number of students it admits, as has been promised the last three years.

Secondly, students should be allowed to park in the garages without an extra charge every few days to alleviate this issue. This would be particularly helpful around exam time.

Finally, why can’t USC stadium parking be accessible to students during the week? We could have a shuttle serving the area throughout the day.

Other students have offered solutions to the parking dilemma at hand. Jonetha Fleming, a third-year pharmacy student, bought a permit to Blossom Street for the first time this semester due to her afternoon classes. While she normally pays for the commuter pass, she decided the stress of fighting for a spot, not being able to find one and ending up with a $10 ticket everyday was ridiculous. In a semester, that’s about $700, which is more than the cost of a garage.

“That permit was a gift to me. Had it not been, I don’t know what I would have done. I think the university should offer scholarships to commuter students to park in the garages,” she said.
Maybe if members of the administration had to attempt to park by the Coliseum for a week, all of the talk about new dorms would cease, and commuters’ concerns would actually be addressed.
It is quite a shame that students pay for classes they can’t attend due to the parking situation. The administration appears to care more about the revenue brought in by commuters than their education, which is stymied by the fact they often have to go home rather than attend class.