A dozen Texas A&M University-San Antonio residents voiced concern over the lack of resident parking at the Residential Hall Association meeting Oct. 3 in Esperanza Hall.
Christian Harmon, manager of Parking and Transportation at A&M-San Antonio, attended the biweekly RHA meeting, answering the questions and concerns of residents. He also provided attendees with feedback forms that he collected after the meeting.
“I want to know if I’ve overlooked anything,” Harmon said.
There are 182 residents with registered vehicles but only 91 resident parking spots available near the dorm. Lot 1 parking in front of Esperanza Hall is shared by residents, faculty and staff. As a result, many residents must resort to parking in lots 2 and 3, on the opposite side of campus. Residents are requesting access to all of Lot 1.
Harmon told the students he put together a business case to present to the President’s Cabinet. Members of the cabinet will determine if changes can be made to provide residents with more convenient parking options.
“It (the business case) highlights the current atmosphere, how many parking permits have been sold, how many slots there are,” Harmon said.
As of Oct. 3, Harmon said he had not yet turned in the business case, saying he wanted to wait until he had the feedback forms to add to it.
The Mesquite scheduled an interview with Harmon for Oct. 7 for more in-depth comments about the meeting. He asked to reschedule for Oct. 8 because of an unexpected conflict. He then canceled the interview on Oct. 8 because he was asked to attend a meeting at the same time. The Mesquite tried to reschedule with him but was never provided a time.
RHA officers encouraged residents to be as understanding as possible as they wait to see what happens.
“It’s all about our patience,” said Shanell Vespry, president of the RHA. “This is the first step to a big change.”
Biology freshman Ryan Bollinger questioned why residents were not given warnings when parked in faculty and staff parking spaces.
“Why not make it a warning the first time and then a ticket on the second or third violation?” Bollinger asked.
Harmon said students are issued warnings rather than parking tickets during the first two weeks of the semester.
“At the beginning of the semester, we have a bit of a grace period,” Harmon said. “I don’t really like that term, but that’s the time of year where we understand that students are still learning and want to give them a fair shot. We enforce these rules to give parking permits value.”
When attendees brought up concerns about the cost of parking permits, Harmon explained that it is a goal to keep pricing as affordable as possible for A&M-San Antonio students.
“Some campuses charge upwards of $200, $300. We don’t do that,” Harmon said. “We’re very price sensitive because we’re on the Southside of San Antonio, which is historically underprivileged. We don’t want to be an unnecessary burden.”
A&M-San Antonio commuter and resident students pay $90 for annual parking permits, whereas University of Texas at San Antonio commuter students pay $163 and residents pay $273 according to the university’s website. At the University of the Incarnate Word, a private college, commuters pay $250 and residents pay $680, according to the university’s website.
Political science freshman Ashley Miller, who gathered student signatures for a petition addressing resident parking, attended the meeting. She presented the petition to Harmon on Sept. 19 in hopes that it would lead to a resolution.
“After today, I feel like the sense of priority has deteriorated. We’re getting the same answers, but not moving forward,” Miller said in an interview following the meeting.
Miller expressed disappointment when she heard that Harmon had not turned in the business form to the President’s Cabinet.
“I’m going to continue petitioning now, and I feel like it could have a bigger impact,” Miller said.