Students voice parking concerns at open forum

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Barbara Young addresses students at the open parking forum Oct. 8.

Barbara Young addresses students at the open parking forum Oct. 8.

Panel says more garages are the best solution to the problem

Robby Poffenberger | Assistant News Editor | @robby_poff
Photo credit: Byron Harward

Students were given the opportunity to voice their grievances and offer solutions to UVU’s parking situation at an open forum Oct. 8.

The forum, headed by a panel of three employees from Parking and Transportation Services, was done in a Q&A format that allowed attendees to ask questions to the panel share experiences. It was the second in a series of forums called Student Voice, which allows students to be engaged in dialogue about issues facing the university.

Academic Senator Tanner McCallister, who conducted the forum, said the Student Voice series is one where student opinion is gathered and then taken to administrators.

“We’re kind of like the middle ground,” he said. “We find out what students want and then we go out and we make it happen.”

The members of the panel were not responsible for the proposal and construction of new parking services–only maintaining and managing the facilities that already exist. But McCallister said the opinions voiced in the forum do find the ears of administrators responsible for those things.

“Those decision-makers really like to see facts and input and advice and propositions when they sit in those meetings, instead of just saying, ‘There’s a problem,’” McCallister said. “So that’s really what it’s all about–collecting the opinions and collecting the facts, then taking those facts … to the administrators who can make those decisions.”

That’s done by the members of the academic senate, executive vice presidents and Student Body President Dylan Swartz, McCallister said.

Among the issues brought up by attendees were the lack of a cap on parking permits, visitor parking for UCCU Center events, the cost of parking in the garage and—above all—how time consuming it is to park further away from campus.

When asked by an attendee how the panel feels about the overall parking situation at UVU, they responded that it would always be an issue.

“The situation on campus is a dire one, and we’re hoping in the future we are able to come up with better ways to alleviate those issues,” said panel member Tena Medina, an appeal officer for Parking and Transportation Services.

She added that, along with new buildings being built on campus, she hopes administrators remember that parking is “a needed commodity” and build more parking accordingly. But again, those recommendations can’t come from her.

“We (Parking and Transportation Services) don’t have any choice whether or not we do add anymore parking,” Medina said. “Those suggestions have to come from other people, like if the students were to write the administration stating the need for parking.”

While the parking situation takes a lot of heat, panel member Barbara Young, Director of Parking Operations and Fleet Management, said there are always open parking spaces. Medina added that, compared to other schools, it could be worse.

“I know BYU campus is pretty horrendous,” Medina said. “And their campus is spaced out, where ours is more centrally located.”

She added that UVU’s $60-per-semester permit prices are “extremely low” compared to other schools, though research showed that prices for Utah schools are either comparable or only slightly higher. The most expensive—The U of U—are $125 per semester, while Weber State’s passes go for $83 and BYU and USU’s permits start at $60 and $65, respectively.

Saying our price is better than most did not satisfy everyone. “We don’t just want to be a little bit better—we want to be way better,” said one student.

When asked what the best solution for the parking situation at UVU would be, all three panel members agreed: more parking garages.

“But, unless we get some money, that’s hard to do. And right now, we’re just trying to pay for the one structure we have,” said Young.

The current parking structure next to the Student Life and Wellness Center is about 20 years from being paid off, she said.

A solution offered by one student was to offer incentives to students using alternate transportation methods, including public transit, riding a bike or walking. President Swartz reminded everyone that parking for motorcycles and scooters is free, and added that advertising that more has been discussed.

With about 50 people in attendance, many of whom were members of student government, McCallister said he’d like to see more people coming out.

“Students love to have opinions about these things and we try to advertise places where their opinions can actually make a difference, and I feel like a lot of students don’t make the effort to come,” McCallister said. “I feel like it was a success for the people who came—people who were here, they had some of their misconceptions cleared up. … But I obviously think it would be a larger success if more students were coming.”

He said they were trying to move the next forum to Centre Stage, where there is more foot traffic. The forum was also available to watch online and on mobile devices via Periscope.