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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Guest Commentary

Candidate column: Shane Smith

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Cougar asked each SGA presidential candidate to write an op-ed indicating what they would do if they were elected. Here is Project Red: Better Food. Better Wi-Fi. Better Parking. candidate Shane Smith.

Parking at UH is a nightmare that makes it hard to get to class on time. There aren’t enough spaces on campus, and adding spaces is virtually impossible because more parking lots require more land. There are ways, however, to improve parking without having to add parking spots.

From my experience, I’ve seen two main problems with parking at UH. First, there are too many students fighting for the number of spots that we have. Second, students don’t know where to find the few open spots that are available. Both of those problems can be improved without adding any new parking spots.

  1. Add an ERP-only parking pass option for $20. ERP is an off-campus location that students can park at if they choose. Shuttle buses run constantly during the day between ERP and main campus. The drive is about 10-15 minutes. By offering an ERP-only parking pass for $20 (that would be $80 cheaper than the current cheapest option), a number of students would choose to save that $80 and park at ERP. Because of this, there would be fewer students fighting for the spots on campus.
  2. Install digital “Spaces Available” signs in front of parking lots. These signs would keep an exact and current count of the number of open spots in each lot. Using sensors at entrances and exits, the signs can prevent students from having to circle parking lots for 10 minutes to find out if there are any open parking spaces.

How will these improvements be paid for? Through advertising in parking lots. Selling pavement advertisements (an ad printed on the parking lot cement), small billboards in parking lots, and naming rights to different lots and garages could bring in the necessary money to pay for the proposed improvements.

The key to this is having the support of students, administration and the parking department. SGA has no actual power – something that some candidates don’t realize. Student government has influence, which only matters if SGA has solid ideas that are realistic and helpful.

Student government’s influence comes from noticing problems that students are having, coming up with ideas to improve those problems and maintaining a good reputation with administration while advocating for those improvements to be implemented.

I’ve been a member of the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee, so I understand the difficulties that the parking department faces. I’ve also seen the parking department’s administration work hard to try new ideas in order to make improvements, and I believe that they will be willing to consider these new ideas if students want them.

If you’d like to see these improvements proposed, vote for candidates from Project Red: Better Food. Better Wi-Fi. Better Parking. between March 1 and March 3.

Shane Smith is an economics junior and is running for SGA President.

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