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The Daily Tar Heel

Dear UNC: Make student parking more accessible


Bowles Lot is pictured on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.

As I’m leaving my 3:30 p.m. class, my thoughts are overclouded by an alert that stops me in my tracks. I realize my car is in danger of having a $30 fine. I imagine it confidently wavering back and forth on my windshield, announcing the crime I’ve just committed to the whole world.

An unwanted reminder that totally diminishes all my enthusiasm remaining for the rest of the day. 

I run out of the building to my Toyota Corolla in hopes of reaching my car before a ticket. However, the first thing that greets my vision is the white slip on my windshield.   

Written in bold ink, it is a request (putting it nicely) to pay my new fee. Disregarding any financial situations an individual might have, this fee increases if not paid on time. 

My frustration only grows as I am taunted by a UNC Transportation and Parking vehicle circling the parking lot, providing cars with the impending doom of a greedy fine. Navigating the parking situation on UNC’s campus has, without a doubt, become a demanding expedition for students who rely on personal transportation. 

Many students work part-time or full-time jobs to financially support themselves through college. Having better access to parking is essential, as it directly impacts their ability to travel conveniently.

First-year students, in particular, face a hurdle as they are bound by UNC’s Transportation and Parking Ordinance, which strictly prohibits them from parking on campus. This means that first-years who bring their vehicles must find alternative parking off campus, but they are also restricted from buying an official permit for the RR Lot — a notably popular choice and possibly the only option for many students. 

From my experience a few years ago, the bus journey to the RR Lot is often tedious and can take up to half an hour or more, depending on road conditions and the weather. 

While the UNC Transportation and Parking website mentions several options to address student parking needs, it falls short of adequately emphasizing the obstacles and inconveniences students may face. 

“I can’t believe I paid $347 and still can’t find parking in my designated lot,” junior Lilia Su said in a text message.

She mentioned experiencing this issue on five separate occasions when her assigned parking lot was full, leading her to use overflow parking at the UNC Outdoor Education Center, which meant an additional 10 to 15 minutes of walking to reach her destination.

“I’ve been late to work due to this issue," she said. "It makes me wonder what I’m even paying for.” 

Su’s assigned parking at the Boshamer Lot is a 10-15 minute walk to many places on campus. Still, compared to parking at the UNC Outdoor Education Center, it can require a 30-minute walk to reach various campus locations, further highlighting students' inconvenience. 

The thought of securing parking on UNC game days feels like a Herculean task, and the streets become a bustling pedestrian parade. These adventures feel as uplifting as finding a needle in a haystack. 

“I’ve noticed that, especially during football games, the University doesn’t seem to prioritize student parking, even when there are plenty of vacant parking spots available,” junior Peyton Brown said. 

Whether during special University occasions or on an ordinary Tuesday, students frequently encounter difficulties when it comes to finding accessible parking, which can significantly disrupt their daily schedules.

Although UNC Transportation and Parking allows non-first-year undergraduates to apply for an on-campus parking lottery, it does not guarantee a parking spot, and students often must find other alternatives.

“I once found myself in a situation at Craige Deck where I couldn’t move my car, resulting in me continuously getting fined,” senior Cole Prezant said. 

This issue continues to impact many students, and actively seeking viable solutions to increase accessibility for student parking on campus is a first step toward resolving this problem. 

Some potential solutions include expanding parking facilities to accommodate the growing student population, implementing a more efficient shuttle service to ease the burden of finding parking spaces or promoting carpool initiatives to reduce the number of individual vehicles on campus. These strategies would aim to mitigate students' parking woes while fostering a more accessible and sustainable parking environment.

The University should also establish a more fair appeals process. Including more transparent guidelines for fines could reduce unintentional violations and need for fines in the first place. 

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The parking dilemma on UNC’s campus presents complex challenges for students, with fines, long walks and limited options becoming a common theme. It’s time for UNC to prioritize student parking and address the frustrations that have become all too familiar. 

@dthopinion |