University of Connecticut students who commute to class have expressed frustration with parking on campus, saying that it is difficult to find and afford.
Commuters, like fifth-semester music education major Gracie Martin, have expressed frustration with Parking Services’ ticketing practices. Martin said in a Facebook direct message she has been ticketed on campus, despite paying for a parking spot.
Cole Sauro, a seventh-semester marketing major, said in a phone interview that parking was too difficult for students. He said parking should be freely available for students, but as it currently stands, he prefers to park off-campus.
“It’s inconvenient, and it should be free,” Sauro said.
Martin and Sauro are among the roughly 35% of undergraduates who live off-campus, according to 2020 UConn statistics. While many reside in local housing close enough to walk to campus, many must find other means of transportation.
The university acknowledged the struggle that commuters face.
“Being a commuter at UConn means making the extra effort to commute to campus each day,” the Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services online resource page said.
Commuting also means bringing or buying food, finding hang-out and study spaces, getting to class on-time and acclimating to the school and social scene solo. To address these needs, UConn offers online resource pages with specific services and locations. Additionally, students can stop by the Off-Campus Student Services office, located in the Student Union.
[UCONN PARKING] IS inCONVENIENT and it should be free.Cole Sauro
Seventh-semester nutrition and health major Madyson Fitzner wished that UConn had better communication with commuter students.
“I think the only thing I know available to commuters as an accommodation is a commuter lounge. I wish there was more communication to see how my experience is going from the school specifically,” Fitzner said over the phone.
The online service provided by the university even offers a calculator to estimate commuting costs; however, the estimate doesn’t include the biggest expense: parking.
According to this year’s parking permit information sheet, for one semester at Storrs, a parking permit for one lot or garage ranges from $164 to $412. For one year of parking, prices range from $330 to $825, with the highest priced permits being for spots close to classes and less costly spots located close to Horsebarn Hill.
Additionally, according to the commuter services price calculator, the average price in car expenses for a year of commuting to campus, not including parking, is $7,208.
Students like Fitzner said they had to spend the money on commuting to afford their education.
“The only reason I am commuting is to pay for my tuition,” Fitzner said.
Martin and Fitzner both said that buying a parking permit does not guarantee a spot every day.
“I struggle to get in the garages due to no parking and I play roulette with the parking people trying not to get a ticket. It’s ridiculous,” Martin said.
With the unavailability of spots they are permitted to park in, students like Fitzner, Martin and Sauro said they end up paying more for things like hourly garage spots and tickets, or risk missing some of their classes.
I THINK THE ONLY THING I KNOW AVAILABLE TO COMMUTERS AS AN ACCOMMODATION IS A COMMUTER LOUNGE. I WISH THERE WAS MORE COMMUNICATION TO SEE HOW MY EXPERIENCE IS GOING FROM THE SCHOOL SPECIFICALLY.Madyson Fitzner
According to Martin, the issue is nothing new. Martin said her sister, a previous UConn student, had faced similar issues in years passed.
“My sister went here and nine times out of 10 she didn’t get a spot in the lot,” Martin said.
Emily Lam, a fifth-semester cognitive science major, and Grace Brangwynne, a seventh-semester political science major, expressed issues with parking on campus because they said they have been ticketed for parking in the spots they do pay for.
“I really keep getting ticketed for a parking spot I pay for, [shaking my head],” Brangwynne wrote in the UConn Buy or Sell Facebook group.
Lam replied in the group, “I got ticketed for my paid parking spot as well.”
Though commuters expressed frustration, they accepted the situation. According to Fitzner, the inconvenience came with her choice to commute, but she feels there is more the school can do to improve the services.
“It has been pretty difficult as a commuter especially when I have work before and after class; I wish there was a better way to access class virtually in specific circumstances like when you’re having car troubles. But, I feel like it was my choice to commute, so I have to deal with the consequences,” Fitzner said.