University should expand on-campus parking

UW-Eau Claire’s campus parking needs a lot of work. I’m only in my second year with a car in Eau Claire and I’m already finding this out.

Given there are only two main parking lots in all of lower campus (Hibbard Hall and Davies Center), and thousands of students currently attending the university, finding a spot ultimately becomes very frustrating.

Granted, my own situation is a special one. I only live five blocks away from campus so there’s no real need for me to drive to class on a regular basis. Walking or biking is much more reasonable for me. With that said, there are instances where I need to have my car on campus.

Considering I walk to class most of the time, I find it financially unnecessary to buy a parking permit. I would be paying money for something I would only use sparingly. So essentially, I would be throwing my own money away just to park a couple times a month. But what if I’m in a rush after a full day of class and I need to get to a meeting? Where will I park?

I can’t settle for the 20 minute maximum lot near either Hibbard Hall or the Davies Center. I’ll most likely get a ticket if my meeting lasts longer than 20 minutes.  I won’t be able to park in the main lots either because I don’t have a permit. I know the lots open to everyone after a certain time but what if I need to park during the day?

This means the only shot I have at a parking spot is on the street. But people with the same situation as me have already landed all of the spots closest to campus. So I end up driving a street away from campus. Packed full. Two streets away. Still packed full. I usually end up parking at least three to four blocks away from campus anytime I take my car.

How is this effective? I end up blocks away from campus and now have a big trek ahead of me. By this time, it probably would have been smarter to just walk or bike like I usually do. I think the university needs to at least make a larger effort to accommodate students in my position.

One simple idea I would propose is changing the 20 minute parking meters to hour-long parking spots. Who really is driving to the university for only 20 minutes? This would also work in Eau Claire’s favor. Hour-long parking means more money in the meters, thus, more money for the parking office and the university as a whole.

Right now, these 20 minute meters are landing students ticket after ticket. I, myself, have fallen victim to a number of citations on campus since I first brought my car here.

Another proposition is making the time the main lots are available to everyone earlier rather than later. Currently, the entirety of the Hibbard Hall and Davies Center lots open to all at 6 p.m. How many people need to use the parking lot then? The university could branch out to so many more student drivers if made this time even two or three hours earlier. They’re only reaching a fraction of the demographic right now.

I don’t think there is an clear, obvious answer to the big picture problem but I do think there is need for change. Campus is already hectic as it is and when students’ time begin to be wasted walking from their car to class, more baggage is just added on. There should be more alternatives for student drivers who don’t regularly drive to class.