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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


SGA bill addresses parking problems

The Student Government Association passed a bill Wednesday night intended to improve campus parking and a resolution to include more student dining options.

The bill states that there should be a "five-minute grace period for parking meter time expirations" and asks that the price increase of permits and decals is halted until the "quality of parking location is improved with more lighting fixtures and paving of gravel lots."

"We felt this is something that needs to be addressed and (the Office of) Parking (and) Transportation needs to know that they are not doing a good job," Bauer College Senator Salman Amanullah said.

Amanullah said students complained about parking tickets during the first two weeks of the semester after being a few minutes late at parking meters.

According to the UH master plan, two more parking garages are slated for construction to increase parking spaces. One garage will be built in May and will be located across from Calhoun Lofts, which is now under construction in the closed Lot 19A.

Students pay $130 to park, Amanullah said, and a major student complaint has been that students are late to class because of the parking situation.

"Students don’t want to park miles away to get to class," Amanullah said.

SGA President David Rosen said students are paying more for permits than last year despite a parking shortage.

Parking fees rose 7 percent this year, and the coming garage will also raise prices, David Irvin, Associate Vice President of Plant Operations, said in a previous interview with The Daily Cougar. Currently, annual permits cost $200 for garage, $50 for economy and $133 for regular student parking. Also, a free satellite parking lot off of the Texas Southern University campus, located at Rosewood Street and Scott Street, has been open to the students since the beginning of September.

Amanullah said that areas such as Parking Lot 4A, along Wheeler Avenue and Calhoun Road, need to be repaved and require better light fixtures in order to better benefit students.

The bill also states that if a student fails to properly display their parking decals and receive a ticket, the student should be forgiven as long as permit ownership proof is provided to Parking and Transportation within 24 hours of the citation.

The proposed ticket dismissal would be limited to one per semester. Geology junior Pat Huff said students should be given leeway when it comes to parking.

"It’s human to forget small stuff like putting up a decal," he said. "I would hope (SGA) would think of a way to prevent people from taking advantage."

The bill also asks Parking and Transportation Services to "improve customer service through effective training of staff and additional customer service representatives."

Amanullah said the Office of Parking and Transportation Services should hire more staffing to make it easier for students to buy permits.

Apart from citing permits, the parking and alleged staff inaccessibility, SGA members did not provide further details on other complaints against Parking and Transportation Services.

Some students said that they are skeptical on what SGA can do to improve parking customer service.

"What does parking personnel mean?" pre-pharmacy freshman Carlos Arce said. "Someone in a golf cart helping students get around?"

Also addressed was the resolution to Diversify Dining Options and Hours which intends to improve campus-dining options through UH food contractor Aramark and extending dining hours for the residence halls.

"Aramark is the only (food) provider, so they have the responsibility to diversify (dining) options," SGA Vice President Sam Dike said.

University Center Director Keith Kowalka said Aramark has been working to provide UH with Halal and kosher foods and should provide more options to the University by the end of the semester.

He also said that Aramark had been working on the issue before it was addressed.

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Senator Aleah Al-Sad said the food services on campus have been a major concern because of a lack of dining hours and food options.

The resolution was written to consider that some students live on campus and that some commute, Al-Sad said.

Amanullah said breakfast choices were limited and that Wendy’s, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Java City, Starbucks and the UC convenience store were the only places offered by UH. Kowalka said these are concerns he’s never heard before.

"We could certainly look at any opportunities to make (food services) better," Kowalka said.

CLASS Senator Alejandro Capetillo said he was concerned that the price of food on campus wasn’t addressed in the resolution.

"I believe that the resolution misses the problem (with food services)," Capetillo said. "The problem is that SGA is worried about the students getting ripped off. Next meeting, I will hopefully be offering a sort of correlating resolution to this resolution that says ‘in conjunction with this.’"

SGA also appointed Varun Ambrose to CLASS Seat No. 8 and elected Amy Ridley, Josh Sarkar, and Stephanie Garcia to the Election Committee.

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

SGA also discussed plans to appoint a student representative to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. There is one position open on the Board.

"Students will be representing student interest on the higher education board," SGA Vice President Sam Dike said.

Every university in Texas will put forth nominations for five people, SGA President David Rosen said.

SGA has no official nominees yet, but it plans to nominate student representatives soon.

"It’s always good to have students voicing concerns with policies," Rosen said.

During the 80th Texas Legislative session, the Legislature approved to allow the Governor to appoint a non-voting student representative to the Board.

The Commissioner of Higher Education is asking for the "best and brightest students" who will be given "unprecedented access" to the process of Texas’ "primary constituency."

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 1, 2008. For more information, call (512) 427-6117.

Additional reporting by Christian Ochoa.

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