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Thursday, November 15, 2018

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Students to be reimbursed for game day parking citations


Students who were issued parking citations at the Oct. 8 home football game against Southern Methodist University can expect a nice surprise in their wallets soon, after a proposal was approved by the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee to reimburse them.

“TPAC has endorsed (the proposal) and we are already communicating with Parking and Transportation Services and Auxiliary Services to move forward with reimbursing those tickets,” Student Government Association President Shaun Theriot-Smith said.

Theriot-Smith said students can expect to be refunded by the end of the semester.

Around 50 citations were issued, all of which were for V8 or V10 violations, which consist of parking on or blocking a driving lane or blocking a sidewalk, crosswalk or parking on the grass, respectively.

Each citation costs between $35 and $40, and doubled in price if they were not paid within 30 days.

Theriot-Smith said the reimbursement would cover any increases that students may have experienced.

Being on a Thursday, the parking situation added stress for commuters and students trying to get to class.

SGA senator and TPAC Chair Eliott Kauffman stressed that there was still available parking at the game, students just weren’t looking in the right places.

“At no time did we run out of parking,” Kauffman said. “There was parking at the Energy Research Park, but we ran into the same problem as always which is students don’t generally want to park there. Students are more willing to drive for an hour in these parking lots than go to ERP and take a 15-minute shuttle back here.”

SGA said they were not on top of their game in regards to the parking situation, and that they could have increased marketing about the available parking at ERP.

“Nonetheless, students were ticked off about the fact that we were not on top of the situation,” SGA Vice President Tanzeem Chowdhury said. “We did have more shuttles, but that was not marketed at all. We tried to reach out to our constituents but, at the end of the day, it’s hard to reach out to this many students.”

Aside from ERP parking, Chowdhury said SGA and TPAC should be and are working to provide more options to students for on-campus parking.

“I think the solution is how can we improve parking, and that is something that TPAC is looking at very seriously,” Chowdhury said.

Theriot-Smith said that SGA would like to help prevent parking problems in the future by planning ahead and holding all campus organizations responsible for presenting parking plans to TPAC.

Most student organizations are responsible for presenting to TPAC ahead of an event to plan accordingly. Organizations like Frontier Fiesta presented a parking plan in October for their event that occurs in March.

Athletics was aware of the Thursday game, but did not present to TPAC until two weeks prior to the event.

“That’s, in my view, not acceptable when we have all of these other entities that do the same thing,” Theriot-Smith said. “Generally speaking, if they know an event is happening on campus, especially during the week, they should be presenting to TPAC and Parking Transportation Services and plan ahead of time.”

Kauffman said he would like students to know that SGA and TPAC are working to alleviate the parking problems and plan for additional parking that will help students in the future.

“We are all here because we are impacted just as much as the next guy,” Kauffman said. “We want these problems to be solved, and I care when students feel like they can’t make it to class. We care, we are listening, we are working on solutions and we are making progress.”

Kauffman said TPAC is actively seeking solutions and has plans for additional parking in the works.

A new parking garage will be built next to the UH Law Center and should be completed by 2019, but construction will displace spots. Kauffman said in order to offset this loss, 1,000 new spots will be added to the ERP lot by Fall 2016.

“It’s not something that’s an immediate fix because you can’t just put up a parking lot in three months, that’s not how it works —  but there are plans in place that will help alleviate the problem,” Kauffman said.

“A thousand new spots at ERP is a giant, giant expansion. ”

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