Scant parking frustrating, inconvenient for student schedules

You squint your eyes hard. Your fingers grip the steering wheel with predatory intensity. The tires slide smoothly on the pavement, expectant. Any second now.

You drive through the corridor, looking for an empty space. Suddenly, your eyes detect an anomaly in the landscape. Your pulse shoots up as you step on the gas pedal triumphantly.

But as you approach your heart sinks. There is no empty slot, but only a vehicle strategically hidden between two others. An expletive escapes your lips as you rejoin other students – competition cruising the lot.

The parking situation at TCU deserves its own show on Animal Planet. The same principles that rule in the jungle govern behavior in the parking lot.

It’s no secret why. Parking is scanty and inconvenient.

“Parking is like pulling a tooth,” said Heather Carlson, a sophomore mechanical engineering major. “It’s a necessary evil.”

Other students share the sentiment. Laura Lee, a sophomore nursing major, said she thinks twice before driving anywhere.

Suddenly that Taco Bell chalupa just isn’t a good enough reason to give up your parking spot.

Students complain about having to walk 10 to 15 minutes to get to their cars. Although this march will hardly draw parallels to the Exodus, a 10-minute walk can be a hassle while on a tight schedule.

The recent bout of crime alerts near and on campus makes the idea of a 10-minute walk even less appealing. Granted, shuttle services and Froggie-Five-O provide some comfort, but this effort is not enough to appease all, especially those students who have to wait for an escort late at night.

The construction of a parking garage is a viable solution to the school’s parking problem. A strategically placed parking garage would provide more parking spots within a close distance to residence halls.

How would the project be financed? TCU is expecting revenue from a recent deal that will allow an oil company to drill for natural gas on school grounds (on a parking lot, to be precise). School authorities should wisely invest this money on a parking facility.

Because a parking garage entails heavier maintenance and more security personnel, parking permit fees will increase.

Baylor University and Southern Methodist University, both of which offer garage parking, charge students $175 and $230 for annual permits, respectively. Because not all students will be willing to pay higher parking fees, a separate garage parking fee should be offered to students who are interested. Space will open up in the surface lots for students with regular parking fees.

Even if the administration resists building a parking garage, the parking problem should be addressed. If money is being funneled toward a new sports facility – and we have plenty of those – then cash should also go toward parking, an investment that will benefit a larger portion of the student body.

Heed our call, school authorities. Parking is not a whim – it’s a necessity.

Julieta Chiquillo is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from San Salvador, El Salvador. Her column appears Tuesdays.