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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: Fighting for Texas Aggie parking

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Photo by Photo by Abbey Santoro

Opinion writer Kaelin Connor addresses the need for increased parking options across campus in her latest column. 

It’s 7:25 a.m.

You’re running out of your house and rushing to your car, backpack gripping onto your shoulder for dear life. You barrel down George Bush Drive and turn onto Wellborn Road as quickly as you can. Then, you hear it. The loud, rhythmic horn of our roots — the train. Before your heart can even sink, you see the line waiting to turn into West Campus Garage. Yet again, you’re experiencing the well-worn joke of Texas A&M parking. Oh, and you’re very late for your 8 a.m.

From the beginning of freshman year, you become familiarized with the driving and parking conditions of College Station. 

The first lesson is the square. University Drive is a nightmare; George Bush is always at a standstill and people never realize they have their own lane turning onto Texas Avenue. The second lesson is about on-campus parking rules and conditions. 

Spoiler: you will still be learning these even as a senior.

Typically, parking passes for students go on sale at the end of the spring semester. It’s a big day, almost as big as registering for classes. If you don’t get the lot or garage you need, well, that already puts you in a catastrophic bind for the next semester. Then, there’s the price. For most garages, prices range from $500 to almost $700 for an annual pass. 

But there are restrictions.
In the University Center Garage, students can only park on the third or higher level in any unnumbered space. If students park on the first or second level, they’ll receive one warning before their $546 pass gets snatched. Starting at 5:30 p.m. the day before A&M football game day, students who purchased Gene Stallings Blvd. Garage pass — also coming in at a steep $546 — can’t park in their concrete jungle. The same rules apply to Central Campus Garage, Northside Garage, University Center Garage and West Campus Garage. 

 

Given the high number of people who go to this school, as well as the thousands of Aggie fans who flood into College Station every other weekend, sensible parking restrictions make sense. However, it’s not fair to up-charge parking that campus officials know students need. 

This isn’t the pharmaceutical industry; it’s A&M Transportation for crying out loud. 

On top of this monopoly, there’s the other issue: parking tickets. It would be shocking to hear someone say they’ve never received a parking violation from A&M. For a lot of students, a several hundred dollar parking pass on top of their already egregious tuition costs isn’t an option. Out of the reported students’ family income for fall 2020, more than 20 percent of the student body had an annual income of less than $60,000. 

So, many students instead put their faith in ticketing GroupMe chats — where students can alert others when tickets are being handed out — and fate. 

There’s a catch to A&M parking tickets, of course. The parking offenders’ first couple go-arounds can expect about a $30 to $40 dollar ticket on their windshield. However, Transportation Services starts to categorize repeat offenders into habitual violators, who receive more than four citations, and chronic violators, who receive more than 10 citations. The catch is that habitual offenders will see their fines increase by half and chronic violators will see their fines double. 

Instead of offering affordable parking or including it in tuition rates, students who can’t afford a parking pass will instead reap the consequences. 

Sure, there’s always the magical Aggie Spirit Bus. However, not every route is accessible or reliable for students. Some bus routes won’t come anywhere near some student housing or show up at their designated times. 

At A&M, parking isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. College Station isn’t New York City where there is an endless number of accessible transportation options. We’re a small(ish) town with thousands of students needing a place to park. Profiting from a basic need isn’t the Aggie way, but campus officials will probably keep turning a blind eye. 

A&M pulls in well over $14 million from parking permits and over $1 million from parking tickets annually.

It isn’t too much to ask for better parking options on campus. For a school with over 67,000 students, our parking structure is archaic and financially cruel. The least A&M can do is prorate the costs into student tuition bills so potential scholarships could pay them or students can plan for these additional costs. We deserve affordable and reliable options. 

Just give us a break. 

Kaelin Connor is a psychology senior and opinion writer for the Battalion.
 

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