Parking lot construction causes chaos on campus

It’s no secret that parking is the bane of everyone’s existence on just about any campus, but this semester Sam Houston State University has really taken the cake. Permanent parking closures are happening left and right, leaving students to worry more about getting to class than the grades they’re making in said classes.

As of April 1, SHSU permanently closed the main parking lot Z2-07 behind the library.  An email from Facilities Management confirmed that 300 spaces would be replaced by the new Art Complex. The alternatives they offered include 80 new spaces in front of the Coliseum in the new lot Z2-12, 90 new spots in the one-way street conversion in zone 2, as well as Batch Plant lot, which “is slightly further out” and offers 500 spots for $50 per year.

The email asks students to understand that this extensive construction “represents campus growth and improvements to academic facilities and amenities that will enhance our learning environment.”  While I wholeheartedly agree that art students deserve better representation on campus via their own building, it’s impossible to turn a blind eye to the havoc this ongoing construction is causing on current and future students.

The one-way streets are only the beginning of Bearkats’ concerns. Sophomore Biomedical Sciences major Morgan Barrentine, commented on the issue of commuting.

“I’m one of the lucky few that doesn’t have more than a 30-minute commute (my commute is 10 minutes), and I still have to drive to campus an hour early just to find a parking spot or I have to wait an hour for the shuttle to take me to campus,” Barrentine said.

Barrentine addresses something pretty big here. Not all students live on or near campus, and it’s hard enough for them to navigate the parking conundrum and the one-way streets as it is.  The long commuters need to be taken into consideration as well. There are commuters driving in from Houston, College Station and other distances; it isn’t fair for them to have to pay hundreds of dollars in parking only to arrive to campus and have nothing available. Many of these students (long and short commuters) have to find pay-by-the-hour parking in one-way streets or find spaces in the Avenues in order to attend class. The biggest problem here is that this was already an issue before the onslaught of road closures this semester, so you can imagine how much more challenging it is for commuters with the additional construction.

Aside from the disproportional ratio of parking spaces to cars, it’s even more frustrating to compare the completion rate of projects around Huntsville to those on campus.

Senior Marketing major Mackenzie Hoffman expressed her thoughts on the inefficiency of the projects.

“I understand why it’s necessary, but I’ve seen bigger projects go up in a couple months,” Hoffman said. “Not several years. This is something that easily could have been started and completed during summer.”

Understanding that growth is a necessary part of campus life, it should in no way impede student learning. Students have to get up hours before their classes start to find a parking spot, much less a decent one. Even then, they may end up being late and penalized for their tardiness. Many often opt to skip class altogether rather than dealing with hassle and inconvenience.

“SHSU should invest in making the currently flat parking lot into a parking garage,” Barrentine said. “Why should an investment like this drastically increase the price of the permits?”

SHSU would get their money back and more pretty quickly with a project like this. Who knows, it might even be one students would get behind.

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