Can you hear that? It’s the groan of thousands of students learning that the surface parking lot behind the Carolina Coliseum will be closed next week to accommodate the construction of new student housing. When no one thought the parking woes on campus could get any worse, USC advised us that they will — and on short notice.
To be fair, Columbia is struggling with a sort of adolescence, and USC is feeling the collateral damage. The increasingly metropolitan city has outgrown its dated infrastructure, meaning resident and student alike must battle with a severe parking shortage that’s exacerbated by inadequate public transportation.
That’s about all the slack we’re going to cut USC, though. Changing the parking paradigm midway through the semester leaves hundreds of students struggling with what they should do with their cars.
We realize that, once again, the university is at the mercy of outside forces. In this case, it is the schedule of a private contractor, but more steps could have been taken to avoid rerouting commuters on such short notice. Even those that don’t park at the Coliseum lots will be feeling the pain next week.
Their symptoms will include a shuffle to find parking and the potential need to buy a garage spot with only four weeks left in the semester. This influx of cars elsewhere on campus will make parking harder to come by, and the move to push students with surface lot passes into Discovery Garage will devalue the passes of those who have already paid the full rate there.
None of this bodes well for the students and faculty that already complain that surface parking is hard to come by by mid-morning and for those who bought Discovery permits to avoid that struggle.
And regardless of how tricky things get for people who already park there, it remains to be seen whether opening Discovery will even be enough to alleviate the pressure on USC’s already-limited parking.
It’s unfortunate that USC students must remain victims of circumstance. We’re all familiar with the narrative: an on-campus housing shortage drives students to live elsewhere, and a constant hunt for parking when they come to campus for the day. We can only imagine how the lot closure might clash with professors’ policies on attendance and tardiness.
But we’re used to it by now, and we’ll bear down and get by like we have for quite some time now.
All in all, we just wish we could rely on USC to provide timely notification of such developments so that we can adjust accordingly. In the meantime, we’ll have to cope with this shortchanging.