Parking on university campuses presents real challenges

Parking has become a major issue for college campuses across the nation including Florida International University. As university enrollments have grown, the number of convenient spaces hasn’t kept up

Students continue to struggle to find places to park, which causes parking violations to be given to them.

Seventeen FIU students were recently surveyed anonymously and asked about their experience with the university’s parking services.

Although most have not struggled financially by paying their tickets, many see the lack of parking spaces along with paying for these services as the real issue.

“No one should have to pay to park,” said an anonymous student who answered the survey, “especially when the parking lot at the Biscayne Bay Campus is longer than the buildings. Twenty-five dollars for not paying $1.50 for an hour of parking is excessive.”

FIU does have a history of students receiving unfair parking citations and struggling to find parking spots. This dates back to 2014, when FIU students living in off-campus housing near the Modesto Maidique Campus parked in driveways of city residents, according to the Miami Herald. 

Such parking is illegal, but the students were given no other choice since the building described in the Herald story only offered 25 parking spaces for 500 rooms. 

The issue has persisted for residential students at University Towers, which is also near MMC and where parking spaces are already limited.

There are 494 residents of the building, which had two parking lots until recently, when lot 6 was reallocated to the nearby Parkview building. Students were left to resolve the issue by themselves and find other places to park. 

FIU map showing UT Parking Lot and University Towers. Photo by Jazmine Santillana

One student commented in the survey that students were forced to park in whatever space was available. Sometimes they received tickets the following morning, and additional tickets after not moving their vehicles.  “It was not fair because there were no parking spots for students living on campus,” one student said.

Six out of 17 students surveyed have received at least one parking ticket on campus. 

Of those six, five answered that they have paid for their parking tickets. Three paid less than $100 but more than $50. And two paid less than $50.

Despite repeated requests for data, FIU did not provide information on the parking situation.

When we asked the Department of Traffic and Transportation of FIU for information on the number of tickets given to students and faculty members, they agreed to release data, but haven’t contacted us since.

However, secrecy on these sorts of documents is common at universities. In 2010, two major Oklahoma universities denied access to data on parking tickets when the Daily O’Collegian and the “Oklahoman,” two local publications, requested information on the issue.

In May 2010 the Daily O’Collegian reported that a student had amassed $8,000 in unpaid parking fines. When the paper asked OSU for information on the matter, authorities denied the request claiming “they are educational records protected from disclosure by a federal privacy law.”

Not long after that, OSU released statistics on parking tickets, with the condition that the names of the students cited would be withheld to comply with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

University of Oklahoma officials dealt with a similar situation when a reporter from the Oklahoman requested data on the number of student parking tickets. Anil Golahalli, a member of OU general counsel’s office, said at the time, “All records that include a student’s name are secret under the law.”

Of course, it is not clear how much it all means to students. As PantherNOW reported back in 2020: “The Parking and Transportation Department has 1.2 million in uncollected parking citations over the past seven years. The average ticket is around $22 dollars.”

Jazmine Santillana is a junior majoring in journalism. After her studies, she wishes to pursue a career in digital journalism.

Astrid Oscorima Requena is a senior at Florida International University majoring in journalism with a minor in English. She is passionate about writing and reporting in both English and Spanish. She enjoys traveling to know more about other cultures. After her studies, she wishes to pursue a career in local media by expanding in the field of broadcasting.

Humberto is a junior at Florida International University. He reports on issues around politics in South Florida and Latin-America.