Opinion: The organized chaos of Boise State Parking has taken its toll on students

Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

At this point in the semester, most students are aware of the frustrating parking situation on Boise State’s campus. The parking garages are organized chaos, in addition to the sparse street parking we are given as overflow. 

Whether it be the daily parking rates in those few garages on campus or the permits purchased at the beginning of the school year, a fee of some kind is required regardless of where you park.

According to Public Records Coordinator Robert M. Adelson, Boise State has a total of 8,508 parking permits for all lots on campus. 2,842 students and faculty members are still on a waitlist to obtain a permit.

For the Lincoln and Brady Garage, 718 and 927 permits have been issued this semester consecutively. Outside of the two garages, there have been 1,031 permits issued to the Resident Central occupants. Lastly, 488 permits have been issued to the Resident West occupants. 

Resident Central permits are also accepted in the Lincoln Avenue Garage while Resident West permits are accepted in Brady Street Garage. 

The biggest issue most students and employees face is the waitlist to obtain a parking permit. This waitlist  number is at 2,842 people. This This number may include duplicates of people on multiple waiting lists and may include current permit holders, according to the Office of the General Counsel. 

Unfortunately, the inability to afford or find parking is not just an issue of convenience. It is also an issue of student safety.

Aside from the skyrocketing parking permit prices, there are more concerns regarding the safety of students who cannot afford to park on campus. Instead, they take the risk of parking in hotel lots or neighborhood side streets. 

On July 6, 2000, at 10:15 a.m., a Boise State student parked near the Greenbelt at Julia Davis Park and walked to class. As she was heading to class, she was abruptly stopped and kidnapped off the Greenbelt, raped and shot in the head — only to be found in a concrete drainage tank in Nampa, Idaho, two days later.

Her name was Samantha Maher. 

We remember her name as we think about the risks each student unknowingly takes when they park off campus and walk to class, no matter the time of day. 

Parking on campus should not be a dreaded task as a student or even as an employee, but it feels like we are headed in that direction.

People like Samantha Maher found a loophole by parking at a location near campus, but ended up paying a fatal price. Because of Maher’s story, I feel less inclined to park anywhere that isn’t a parking garage on campus, but financially, I don’t always have that luxury. 

[Photo of Brady Street Garage at Boise State University.]
Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

One day, however, I was running late after tracing the winding ramps in the Brady Garage. The lot was at max capacity, and I had no other choice but to park in the West Reserve lot, which runs parallel to Brady Garage. I paid for parking using an application on my phone and confirmed my spot. 

However, when I returned to my car, I noticed a warning slip on my windshield saying that I was not allowed to park in this permitted lot, despite the fact that I had paid for a full class session’s worth of parking on my phone. 

For this day in particular, if I wanted to make it to class on time, I had to risk the consequences of parking in a new lot, and I ended up paying for it in the end. Choosing to miss class because of our current parking situation or because of safety concerns is not something that should cross our minds at this point in our college careers. Unfortunately, it is.

There is a free lot, the Satellite Zone, which is on the other side of Broadway Avenue. The lot still requires a permit, which students can obtain through the Transit Center. However, this “free” parking is off campus, across one of the busiest streets in downtown Boise and requires you to contact the Transit Center first, which not many students are familiar with. 

The other lots and garages on campus are financially unrealistic on top of everything else we have to pay for as students, such as food or textbook materials. 

The cheapest permit on campus is $124, and the location is not any better than the aforementioned Satellite Zone parking. The East Commuter, running parallel to Broadway Avenue, and the South Commuter, running alongside Beacon Street, is where these students may park. Not to mention, these are some of the farthest lot locations from the primary classroom buildings in the Quad, which adds about another 15 minutes to a student’s commute time. 

The most expensive parking permit, and one of the most difficult permits to attain, is the Brady Street Garage. The permits themselves cost around $390, probably because the parking garage is in the heart of campus. However, it is also notorious for being overcrowded and accident prone. 

With winter quickly approaching, the season’s shorter days and colder weather will inevitably bring more vehicles on campus, many of which do not have access to parking permits or convenient parking locations. Boise State transportation needs to be re-evaluated for this time of year. Not only is the weather a concern for students parking farther away but also because of the safety issues associated with walking off campus after the sun goes down.  

Parking on campus is a battle between convenience and safety. What risks are students and faculty willing to take if they don’t already have a secured spot to park on campus? This puts us at a disadvantage — women and low-income students especially. 

I do not want another student’s life to be at risk for attending classes, nor do I want to feel stressed about finding a parking spot with the possible consequence of getting ticketed for parking in the “wrong” spot. As Boise State’s student population continues to rise, serious changes must be made to the university’s parking situation.

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