Gerald Harkins

Photo Credit: Alex Dolan | Daily Texan Staff

UT will begin charging more for parking permits across the board starting Sept. 1, in line with a report from the UT Parking Strategies Committee.

The increases will apply each year for at least the next five years.

Under the new plan, commuter student and surface staff permits will increase in cost by an average of $6 per year. Most resident garage permits and commuter garage permits will increase an average of $23 each year. Faculty permits will see an average increase between $10 and $33 each year, and administrative permits increasing an average of $64 per year.

The committee opted to adjust each permit separately, fearing that an equal increase to all the permits would make some options unaffordable.

“Across-the-board increases place a larger burden on low-cost permits and, as such, potentially on those in the university community least able to afford such increases,” the report said.

Gerald Harkins, associate vice president for Campus Safety and Security, said the report focused on ways the parking permit fee system could be priced closer to market rates of universities similar in size to UT.

The permit rates at UT are considerably low compared to other universities of similar size around the state. For a student surface lot permit, UT-San Antonio, Texas Tech and Texas A&M charge $145 and higher, whereas the current surface lot permit at UT-Austin is $120.

According to the report, the staff at UT-San Antonio, Texas Tech and Texas A&M can purchase permits starting at $335, $236 and $356, respectively. The lowest staff permit at UT-Austin starts at $142.

The goal of increasing parking permit fees is to better cover the cost of the Parking and Transportation Service. Since PTS is an auxiliary department of the University, only money from permit fees, garage fees and citations fund the cost.

Tom Brown, government junior and member of the Parking Strategies Committee, said the increased funding for PTS is necessary for the services they provide the University.

“Parking and Transportation does more for our campus than meets the eye,” Brown said. “PTS provides funds for campus safety and security, which houses the Emergency Preparedness Department, Environmental Health & Safety, Fire Prevention Services and UTPD.”

Undergraduate Studies sophomore Laney Whitney commutes to campus every day and parks her car in the Speedway garage. She said driving to campus is an expensive last resort.

“As a commuter, I think the increasing garage prices are ridiculous,” Whitney said. “I really don’t have a choice but to buy a pass since the buses don’t run where I live.”

Whitney said she understands the need to pay for the changing parking needs on a campus like UT-Austin but further stressing students’ budgets should be a last resort. According to the report, some of the increase in permit rates will go to cover construction of additional spaces.

“They should figure out an alternative to charging struggling college students who will probably graduate before they see the benefits of more parking,” Whitney said.

The report found the parking rates at UT-Austin have been historically low, with small increases in price from year-to-year, ranging from 0.74 percent to 1.54 percent.

Harkins said PTS wanted to charge only as much as would be needed to operate.

“Our philosophy has not been to make money in the parking business,” Harkins said. “Our philosophy has been to provide the service and to do it as inexpensively as possible. I know sometimes it doesn’t seem that way.”

Members of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity shotgun beers while tailgating before the UT versus New Mexico football game on Aug. 31, 2013.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

With tailgates at UT football games currently spread across various parking lots around Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, leaders from one student organization have proposed a single student tailgate to unite students.

Ryan Shingledecker, former Students for Texas Athletics president and current president Preston Moore are in the process of working with University officials to create a University-sponsored student tailgate. Shingledecker, a international relations and global studies senior, said the tailgate is still only an idea at this point, but once established, the tailgate would be a single area for all students to go to before football games.

Moore, who is a finance, business honors and Plan II senior, said the tailgate would be similar to those held by other universities that have tailgates located on campus for students and alumni, with various student organizations involved.

“The goal of it is to unify the student body and to have the tradition of being able to go as a student of an organization or not of an organization,” Moore said. “Anybody could come and tailgate all together in one spot.”

Shingledecker said the concept of a student tailgate came to him while running for Student Government president in 2013. According to Shingledecker, during his campaign, many students said they would like to see a tailgate on campus.

Shingledecker, who ultimately lost the SG election, joined Students for Texas Athletics and developed a proposal with Moore, outlining their ideal student tailgate. The proposal was presented to UT Athletics on April 28 and is currently under review.

“We’re in the process of meeting with people, and that’s one of those things where our hopes might not be able to come to fruition because we put everything we would ever want,” Shingledecker said.

The group’s ideal location for the tailgate is the East Mall.

“We think it would be cool to have tailgating on the East Mall, from the Tower all the way down to the stadium,” Shingledecker said. “The hope in that is that we have the Tower in the background leading up to the stadium.”

Gerald Harkins, associate vice president of Campus Safety & Security, said this location is a possibility, but factors such as pedestrian traffic, the loading and unloading of equipment and the maintenance of facilities, among others, must be considered before a decision is made.

Another factor being considered is the consumption of alcohol by those at the tailgate.

“We want students to have fun, but we also know there are liabilities and risks involved, too,” Moore said.

Harkins said, if alcohol is sold, a policy must be implemented to keep attendees and those passing through safe.

“If you make the assumption that there is going to be alcohol there, which I was told there would be — so people over 21 are going to be drinking — you’ve got to do ID cards or wristbands,” Harkins said.

SG President Kori Rady said he is also interested in establishing a student tailgate and has met with members of the athletics department as potential funders, but, with all the changing parts, no decisions have yet been made.

“Athletics is extremely busy throughout the season and prior to the season,” Rady said. “Sometimes, it is really difficult in certain situations to implement such a large-scale event.”

Rady said he hopes to at least set the foundation for a student tailgate this year.