The campus during the Fall 2021 semester is bustling with noticeably more students than were ever seen in the 2020-21 academic year. With the influx of students back to campus, the parking situation has changed, and for many, this change has been frustrating. 

At the right time of day, campus community members can see many people riddled with the infamous yellow envelopes tucked beneath the wipers of cars throughout campus. 

In the 2020-21 semesters, parking on campus was a breeze for many considering the lack of on-campus classes. With the return to a somewhat normal year, more and more are finding it difficult to park without receiving a citation.

There were just over 4,900 general parking permits sold this semester, which is equal to or less than past semesters, according to UTC Parking Services’ Associate Director David Seidel.

He said this is a ratio of about 1.7 permits sold per general space on campus.

Along with selling slightly fewer permits, Seidel said that there have also been fewer citations so far this semester versus past semesters.

“I believe that this can be attributed to the ease of use with the new virtual parking permit system,” he said.  

To this point, 2,613 citations have been issued. For the most part, these citations are due to vehicles parked in the incorrect lot, Seidel said. 

Sophomore Gabbi Lewis has a general pass, and he has not had any citations this semester but said that she is unhappy with the number of vehicles there are. 

Lewis also said that she never experienced this issue her first year at UTC because the pandemic cut the number of students on campus down significantly.

“I would hope that there would be more general than reserved lots at some point,” Lewis said. “As well as the UTC parking setting out defined times they will be checking.”

Kendall Davis, also a UTC sophomore, has a south campus reserved permit and loves that they did not oversell passes, so she has a place to park. 

Davis does have concerns for her safety when walking to the parking lot.

“The walk includes going through the little bushes that you cannot see around,” said Davis. “It makes me feel like someone will jump out at any point in time.” 

Senior Audrey Lawson shares Davis’ safety concern, but also said that her frustration lies in the lack of spots when compared to the amount of money she spent on a general pass. 

“Parking constantly disappoints me because if I am paying a lot of money for a pass, I should not have to drive around for 30 minutes just to find a spot all the way across campus,” Lawson said. 

Lawson also said her friends feel similarly to her, even those who purchased a reserved pass.

“Students are getting fed up with the lack of parking options, and we feel taken advantage of that we are paying ridiculous prices that don’t even guarantee parking,” she said. 

Ashton Dickinson, a UTC sophomore, has a south campus reserved permit and has received one citation this semester. According to Dickinson, her permit allows her to park in more lots than she was originally aware of, causing her to leave her car in the wrong lot, resulting in the aforementioned citation. 

“It’s difficult to navigate the parking situation when I paid almost $500 for a reserved parking pass and still received a citation,” Dickinson said. “I didn’t know I had more options on where I could park.” 

There are things that drivers can do to ensure ease of parking for others and prevent themselves from falling victim to the yellow envelope. 

Seidel said that for commuter students with general permits, arriving to campus with ample time is crucial. 

He also said students should avoid circling a lot multiple times. Rather, students should look in outer parking lots, like lot 45 at the UTC Sports Complex and take the shuttle to campus.

For commuter students with reserved permits, Seidel said students should not park in a general lot just because it is closer.

“You are essentially taking up two spaces when you do this because you allocated space in the reserved lot will just sit empty,” he said. 

Seidel had the same advice for residential drivers with permits and does not recommend these students move their vehicles to get to class. 

For any questions about parking, UTC Parking Services is available at parking@utc.edu.

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