By: David Cuevas October 26, 2022
Trying to find a good parking spot has been a constant and frustrating struggle for countless years for students at numerous different college campuses across the United States and at Texas State University that is no different.
Texas State has always been a college with extremely limited parking for its student enrollment, and while over the past few semesters a large quantity of classes have been held online to abide by the social distancing and quarantining procedures set in place due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has slightly helped the parking situation at Texas State.
But with the 2022 semester seeing the return of in-person classes in nearly two full years the number of commuters driving to Texas State has increased, making the number of spaces in the lots deemed acceptable for students to park in that much more difficult to come by and the effects of the school’s parking situation is already being fully felt by some of its student bod such as Dillon Strine, a senior majoring in journalism at Texas State, spoke about how he deals with parking at the school.
“I noticed last year there was an increase in students commuting to campus because there’s not really off-campus housing close,” Strine said in an interview. “I live over a mile away and walk to school every day because I pay for a space at my place and don’t feel like having to find a spot only half a mile closer at most.”
The main parking lot commuting students use is the lot near Bobcat Stadium, which is a roughly estimated 20–30-minute walk to the central campus, depending on how quickly each individual student is capable of walking and the amount of foot traffic along the way. Having to travel that far of a distance, particularly in the harsh elements such as rain, cold or heat, makes the situation all that much worse for Texas State commuters. Strine having first-hand experience of what it’s like to park in this lot, gave his opinion on how the school’s parking setup affects students who commute to and from campus.
“I think our parking is really bad for commuters especially,” Strine said. “I was one last year and got a lot of steps in after having to drive in less time than I had to walk from my car to class.”
The Sessom parking lot on campus was the closest lot for commuting students to park but with the construction of the new Live Oak Studio that was completed prior to the start of the Fall 2022 semester, that parking area is no longer accessible, leaving commuters with no other options but to have to park in lots that are far away from campus.
According to the Texas State website, the university’s Parking Services oversee more than 100 permitted parking lots and garages on campus. Permits are separated into different categories, each with its own rules and limitations. Students have the option to purchase these permits either per academic school year on a semester-by-semester basis. Weekly permits are also available for students and are a much cheaper alternative only costing $6 per week.
The different types of parking permits Texas State offer are residence hall, Mill Street, Bobcat Village, commuter interior, commuter perimeter, red restricted, and red reserved. Carson Weaver a Mass Communications senior at Texas State, shared his thoughts on the parking permits the school offers to students.
“Since I’ve been here, Texas State has always sold more parking permits to students than parking spaces available,” Weaver said. “Even if you do buy one of the purple non-residential passes the parking garages are on the outskirts of campus so I’d have to walk 15-20 minutes just to get to class. Buying parking passes to me is not worth it.”
The two red permits are only eligible for members of the Texas State staff and allow them to access park in specific spaces and lots closest in proximity to the central campus. Anyone caught parking in a space permitted only for one of the red permits who doesn’t have one will be given a ticket, have a parking boot placed on their tire, or, in the worst-case scenario, have their vehicle towed. The strong likelihood of one of these things happening discourages students from parking in one of the red-restricted lots.
This is frustrating for students as it along with choosing to build the new Live Oak Studio in the only commuter student accessible lot on the central campus gives off the impression that the university is favoring its staff over students when there should be an equally fair for all members of the Texas State community. Especially since a fair number of red restricted spots go unused while students have to fight for a good space and either walk 20-30 minutes or wait in line and hope to catch of the Bobcat Shuttles in time just to make it to class on time.
“There are empty spots I see close to campus because people are scared of getting tickets.” Strine said.
Stephen Prentice, the Associate Director of Parking Services at Texas State, briefly spoke about the school’s parking situation for students.
“While the majority of classes are on campus, and while there was a 14% increase in freshman enrollment, neither is a predictor of more persons parking on campus than in previous years.” Prentice said.
Prentice’s comments are confusing as throughout the 2022 semester the increased number of commuting students and limited spaces have been extremely noticeable due to more students being back on campus now that society is in post-Covid 19. And a larger freshman class shows the university’s willingness to accept more students, which will lead to more commuting students in future semesters, which will become a major problem as there are already a limited number of spaces. However, Prentice failed to acknowledge this.
Prentice also refused to comment on whether or not Texas State would consider selling red parking permits to students to allow them a closer walking distance to campus but rather changed the focus to green permits even though green permits were never once mentioned in any of the questions.
Prentice’s comments cannot help but give the conclusion that Texas State does not see any problems with its current parking situation and does not plan on changing it in any way despite the complaints from students and the increased number of incoming students that very well could continue to increase in years to come.
Where those students in future semesters who choose to commute will park when the number of spaces run out is anybody’s guess.
By allowing a percentage to be granted access into some of the red permit- restricted areas on campus and use the spaces that are empty day after day could greatly improve the school’s parking situation, according to Weaver.
“If Texas State allowed students to buy a red parking permit allowing students to park in certain spots closer to campus hotspots, it would improve the parking situation here.” Weaver said.