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Volume 68, Issue 3, Wednesday, August 28, 2002


Parking issues still plague UH

Matthew Caster
Opinion Columnist

Sometimes each of us desires something that we can accept as a basic human truth, a certain fact that is always constant, always true. You
know, something you can kind of base your entire life on.

Allow me to offer a possibility for consideration: parking at UH sucks. Some of you have known this for years -- others learned for the first time
Monday. Welcome to Cougar High.

I was caught in it, too. I was prepared for it, because I've dealt with it before. I showed up three hours early.

I still had to circle for nearly 30 minutes before I found a parking space in a lot nearly two miles from where my classes are.

Granted, it was a much-needed workout, but come on. Is there really any logical reason why, for at least the last 30 years according to
<I>Houstonian<P> Yearbook records, parking on this campus has been a mess?

It's a problem that should have been fixed a long time ago and is easily remedied with a little common sense and elbow grease.

This campus has more than 33,000 students, of whom about 90 percent commute.

When factoring in carpooling and bus riders, this translates to around 25,000 cars competing for the roughly 19,000 parking spaces on campus.

Theoretically, it's unlikely that all 25,000 cars would be on campus at the same time, right? Who cares?

Everyone unfortunate enough to pony up $104 for parking should have a space waiting within a reasonable distance of his or her classes.

So keeping that in mind, how can we solve the parking problems on campus?

Several steps are required. First of all, every time the University builds a new parking lot, it finds an excuse to destroy an old one.

This time, the hapless victim was the parking lot next to Wendy's on Cullen Boulevard.

If I recall correctly, this parking lot is being bulldozed to make room for trees. While I am a big fan of trees, I'm also a big fan of spending
considerably less than 30 minutes finding a parking space.

The University should at least try to maintain the number of spaces they have, as opposed to taking them away.

Here's another thought: Try to lessen the number of commuters who attend UH.

There are several ways to accomplish this. The one that will not work is continually raising the parking tag fee with the hope that fewer people
will pay it.

Just three years ago, I paid $76 for my parking tag, and now it costs $104. At that rate, people will be paying $200 within the next decade.

Continually raising the price of the parking rate won't do anything, because almost everyone will just keep paying it until it finally gets so high that
no one can afford it.

No, when I say reduce the number of commuters who drive to campus, I'm referring to actually getting people to live on campus.

Admittedly, UH doesn't exactly rest in the heart of River Oaks, but the fact is that we have a nice, reasonably safe campus, with a crime rate
comparable to other urban universities of similar size.

So I immediately ask the question: Why does everyone commute to UH, or more poignantly, why don't more people live on campus?

My considerable research on the subject has led me to a simple conclusion that, quite frankly, the dorms on campus are too run down, and the
apartments off campus are not cost effective.

I mean, admit it: the Moody Towers look like they were imported from Sarajevo after the Bosnian wars, and the residence halls over in the
Quadrangle are older than my parents.

I spent the night up here during freshman orientation, and the glorified roach motel I stayed in was enough to convince me that the 30-mile
commute from Katy was worth it.

The University of Houston can only stand to benefit from more people living on campus -- it adds to the culture and tradition of the campus, and it
helps cut down on commuter traffic.

I admit I would certainly live on campus if I felt like there was an affordable, comfortable place to round out my college career.

If UH doesn't feel like building all-new parking lots, maybe a new dorm or two on campus (i.e., ones that actually look new) might get a few
commuters out of the parking lots. Every little bit helps, after all.

Matthew E. Caster, a senior petroleum engineering
major, can be reached at

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