My journey to being able to drive to campus was filled with many challenges. However, I never really thought parking was going to be one of them. After two weeks of commuting to campus, I can already see parking at Texas State is suboptimal.
Last semester, I avoided commuting from my hometown of San Antonio to San Marcos. Due to COVID-19, I was taking classes virtually. With Texas State returning to in-person classes in the fall, I realized that not all the classes I needed were available online. I also realized that meant I’d have to drive to San Marcos every day ... which meant getting my license. Don't worry, I passed.
Texas State set a record for freshman enrollment with 6,600 students enrolled for the fall 2021 semester, a 13% increase from the previous year. Even with its new influx of students needing parking in residence and commuter lots, Texas State decided to close down Sessom Lot to build Live Oak Hall.
“I never got to park there because it was always full, but they took it away to build a building. You have a parking shortage and you’re gonna take away parking?” Amber Mathews, an anthropology and English senior said. “It seems to me that commuter parking takes up the bulk of the student body, so why are we treated like crap?”
Sessom Lot was one of the closest parking lots near central campus. Now, students are forced to park in lots much farther away such as Bobcat Stadium, which is a 30-minute walk from the Quad.
A week before school started, I needed to head over to Old Main, but the 45-minute drive from San Antonio wasn’t the issue. As I parked at the Aquarena Lot (P9), also listed as the Coliseum Lot on the map, I realized it would be an egregious walk to campus and then a hike up to Old Main.
Unfortunately, I’m not the only one with a commuter pass who faces the inconvenience of having to park far and walk to class in the Texas heat. Like me, Savannah Gonzales, a communication studies sophomore, started commuting this semester.
“I have to walk all the way from the stadium and all my classes are on the Quad,” Gonzales said. "So, I have blisters all over my feet and it’s not great.”
Apart from the long distances students may have to walk from the parking lots to their classes, there’s also the matter of finding a spot.
“Every day I would just sit in the parking lot for like 15 ... 30 minutes and I would wait for someone to come and move their car, just so I could find a spot,” Sami Nasreddine, a biology sophomore, said. “This semester, since we’re in person, all the commuter spots were gone. I bought a pass for a week for like six or seven bucks, just to see how the commuter parking would be. After that first week, I’m like 'I’m not wasting my money.' I wouldn’t be able to use my pass.”
With 2020 having sold 13,882 perimeter passes, the pass mostly used by commuters, out of the total 16,180 passes sold, commuters make up the vast majority of drivers on campus. Taking away access to commuter parking negatively impacts students who drive to campus.
In order to better serve its commuter student population, Texas State needs to invest in additional parking lots closer to campus. While it's nice to see the university expand its educational programs and buildings, there's no point in these expansions if students already have a hard time getting to class.
“I feel like if people have to bring their cars they should have spots to put their cars. I don’t understand why they want us to drive our cars, and the best spot we can find isn’t even on campus, it's on the stadium and then we have to get on a bus," Nasreddine said.
- Hannah Thompson is a history senior
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