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Sunday, June 4, 2023

From the Archives

From the Archives: 50 years of parking gripes

Parking and Transportation services will undergo major changes throughout the next several years.

As students circle the lot in hopes of finding a space, they do so in the wake of countless generations of Cougars that have come before them.| File photo

Many students think of parking with the same exasperated frustration they might feel toward the federal government. They want change but ultimately believe they are powerless to effect it. 

If nothing else, students should know they are not alone. As they circle the lot in hopes of finding a space, they do so in the wake of countless generations of Cougars that have come before them.

In this entry of From the Archives, The Cougar will explore the vexing issue of parking at the University and the administration’s continued struggle to provide its students with adequate space for their vehicles. 


The 1960s was not a slow decade for news. The integration of public schools, Vietnam, various assassinations and the Cold War made for a lively time. Yet despite the increased premium on editorial space, parking gripes were still a common sighting in letters and articles across the decade. 

One letter to the editor published on Dec. 7, 1967, by a student named Judy Shofner expressed criticism that remains relevant 56 years later. 

Parking should not be a problem at UH,” Shoffner said. “We students have too many other things to worry about. Like getting an education, maybe?”

Similar remarks are found sporadically throughout the year, with many blaming Campus Safety and Security, the predecessor to UHPD.

One student named Myron Ricketts was particularly incensed by the mandatory $7 fee applied to all students who drove on campus. In a letter to the editor published on Feb. 15, 1968, Ricketts charged traffic officials at UH with misallocating fees and an overly-aggressive ticketing policy. 

“Where does this money go? Is it used to build parking lots that the State of Texas already supports financially?” Ricketts said. “Or does it go to purchasing ammunition for when students inevitably riot against Traffic and Security?”

Luckily, Ricketts’ allusions to student unrest would not materialize, but the sentiment persists. 


The 1970s promised themselves to be a good decade for Cougar commuters. The much-awaited purchase of the Jeppesen lot, formerly a part of the now-demolished Robertson Stadium, promised relief for the congested campus.

The director of Traffic and Security Larry Fultz gave a somewhat optimistic prognosis of the development in an article published in The Cougar Aug. 31, 1971.

“Once the Jeppesen lot is finally completed, there will be parking for everybody,” Fultz said. 

Yet a new lot would bring with it a new set of complications. Improvements and construction on the lot created even more obstacles for commuters and pedestrians alike. The backlash from the student body was enough for Student Advocate Tom O’Donnell to publish an article the same day calling for perspective on the situation. 

“As fantastic as it may seem, our parking situation is far better than at most other universities,” O’Donnell said. “Yes, for some, it may be bad, but many others have it far worse.”

The situation would culminate in the temporary suspension of vehicle citations on campus until conditions allowed for greater access to student parking. Fultz would again announce the decision in an article published in The Cougar Sep. 9, 1971. 

“Until there is an opportunity to park legally, tickets will only be given when there is a total disregard for the safety of other drivers,” Fultz said.

Despite the chaos, the lot would eventually open to the student body and temporarily relieve some parking stress on campus. 


By the 1980s, the University seems to have found itself in a period of relative calm concerning parking issues. That’s not to say The Cougar didn’t feature any complaints from the student body, though.

One issue that drew particular criticism from students involved parking decals with misprinted directions instructing holders to display their stickers on the wrong window of their cars. The mix-up resulted in several students receiving citations for failing to comply with parking regulations. This issue resulted in predictable backlash. 

“It’s not the fine that makes me angry. It’s the principal of the thing,” said management and information systems senior Frieda Felton in a news article about the decal confusion published Jan. 28, 1983. 

Felton, who was cited as a result of following the instructions printed on the parking sticker, declared her intent to fight the citation in the Student Traffic Court. 

Another student expressed similar frustrations in a letter to the editor published Nov. 15, 1985. In the letter, hotel and restaurant management junior Greg Taylor criticized the then director of parking for a perceived apathy towards the students of UH. 

“It’s unfortunate that the director of parking is insensitive to the needs of the student body,” Taylor said. “Maybe it’s about time the administration finds someone who can do the job and communicate with students.” 

University officials would soon remedy the sticker-misprint controversy, and the employee responsible was terminated. Still, the chaos it caused is yet another example of the University’s troubled history with student parking. 


Though the 1990s offer just as large a selection of editorial complaints concerning parking at UH as the previous three decades, in the interest of brevity, this section will be limited only to the most potent example. 

That example came in the form of a letter to the editor submitted by Brian Daughtery on Feb. 9, 1990. In the letter, Daughtery eloquently expresses the issues impacting student parking from his perspective on the ground level. 

“Dear idiots at the UH parking department,” the letter reads. “We have what, about 25,000 parking spaces here for about 10 billion people with parking stickers. Sounds a bit overcrowded, doesn’t it? Well, if you go into the parking lots, it looks a bit overcrowded, too.” 

Questionable estimates aside, Daughtery’s cutting words are echoed, albeit more tactfully, in the frustrations expressed by other students throughout the decade.


In many ways, the turn of the millennium marked the true beginning of the digital age. The internet was becoming more and more intertwined in people’s daily lives, social media was in its infancy and smartphones were just around the corner. 

And students at UH are still driving hopelessly in circles hoping to be one of the lucky few to snag the spot of another departing classmate. 

What differentiated the students of the new millennium from those before was their cerebral approach to the now decades-old parking problem on campus. One article published Jan. 30, 2009, details a motion from the Student Government Association suggesting students simply find another way to get to campus. 

“I want you to put this in perspective,” said the then SGA President Samuel Dike. “We’ve asked for more parking spaces. More parking spaces require money.  Where are we going to get the money? Well, the money comes from parking permits. So to solve a problem, we create a problem.”

Whether Dike spoke from the point of realism or frustration is hard to tell. Regardless, it wouldn’t be the last time that line of reasoning would come up. 


Though Dike’s suggestion might have seemed somewhat out of touch at the time, a presentation given by the then Director of Parking and Transportation Services Bob Browand arrived at a similar conclusion. 

The presentation, posted to YouTube on Feb. 17, 2016, provides a basic overview of the University’s priorities over the next 10 years. In it, Browand plainly states that growing enrollment combined with existing constraints on space have made it unfeasible for the University to provide parking for its student body. 

“We just can’t build enough parking spaces to keep up with the campus expansion and growing enrollment,” Browand said. “Therefore, more faculty/staff and students will need to find alternative ways of getting to and  from campus.” 

While efforts have been made on behalf of the University to alleviate parking constraints, such as the COAST program, for many, parking remains an issue for some students.

Present day

Parking. Parking never changes. At least, that would appear to be the case for the University. Despite countless upgrades, new garages, expanded lots and alternative programs, UH still has not met parking demands to the complete satisfaction of the student body. 

Recently, the key issue affecting students has been the switch from physical permits to virtual ones. While the switch was intended to make the permit process more efficient for faculty and students, it hasn’t been without its hiccups. 

In particular, the change has created issues for students with multiple vehicles on their parking accounts. Those with more than one car, like law student Aaron Cromer, must now make sure they switch their primary vehicle online to avoid being ticketed. 

I was fined for parking in Zone D with a valid parking pass on Friday morning In my wife’s car,” Cromer said. “They expect me to go online and switch my car’s ‘active’ status to the one I drive each day, despite both (cars) being registered.”

Cromer’s fine was eventually reduced to a warning after he showed officials that both cars were registered to park on campus. Still, he feels even a warning is inappropriate, considering the vehicle he was driving had a valid permit. 

The fact of the matter is that parking is an issue that has affected students at UH almost since the invention of the car. With enrollment increasing year-to-year and Houston real estate becoming increasingly sought-after, the likelihood of students being entirely satisfied with parking on campus any time soon is unfortunately low. 

Finance junior Sameer Shah perhaps best summarized Cougars’ generational angst toward parking in a simple but pointed statement. 

I have had terrible experiences with them, and they love giving students a hard time. 0/10,” Shah said. 

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