The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Editorial | Make UI parking more accessible

The University of Iowa needs to address crowded and hard-to-access parking areas.
Jordan Barry
Kiana Shevling-Major speaks during a University of Iowa Democrats meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.

The University of Iowa must make on-campus parking more accessible for students.

As announced in the UI’s five-year Housing and Dining plan, one potential long-term location for a new residence hall is the Recreation Center Lot at 500 S. Madison St. This decision would make the UI’s already-slim number of parking spaces even more difficult for students and visitors to navigate.

The DI Editorial Board believes students should opt to use public transportation or other alternative forms to reduce the number of cars on campus. However, for students who commute or otherwise must use cars on campus, the DI Editorial Board believes that the UI should take steps to improve the campus parking experience.

There are around 16,000 parking spaces on campus managed by UI Parking and Transportation according to the department’s website. These are comprised of gated and open surface lots, parking ramps, and metered spaces.

However, this figure is not broken down to represent the spaces that are restricted only to faculty or employees of certain departments. For example, the spaces in Lot 42 are largely restricted to employees of the College of Public Health, with only a few spaces available to the 614 students within the neighboring Visual Arts Building and Art Building West.

According to the parking map linked on the department’s website, there are 15 lots or ramps available to the public, including students and staff without permits and UI visitors, and seven lots or ramps available to students with parking permits. However, there are 60 lots or ramps listed as only available to faculty and staff with permits at the UI.

These figures are immensely disproportionate, as there are over 31,000 students enrolled at the UI, and only 1,300 tenured and tenure-track faculty and staff.

Additionally, although the Parking and Transportation site has a page dedicated to the real-time availability of public parking spaces, many lots are frequently full or have a long line of cars waiting to park. For example, at certain times of day, usually during the transfer of classes, the line for the Library Lot can stretch all the way to West Burlington Street.

The Library Lot is nestled between the English Philosophy Building, Adler Journalism Building, and the UI Main Library, and is the only public parking available for blocks with the nearest other spaces being the IMU Parking Ramp, Recreation Center Lot, and two hour restricted Stanley Museum of Art Ramp.

The DI Editorial Board believes existing parking locations should be made more accessible to students at the UI.

Parking permits

For students and faculty who do have parking permits for otherwise restricted lots, like the Library Lot, finding parking is not guaranteed, either. Having a permit does not guarantee a space in any lot, instead only preventing being ticketed in a restricted lot.

Permit options for students can be found on the department’s website, which directs interested students to the Parking Portal website. However, neither page directly conveys which permit goes with which lot and who exactly can apply for certain permits, making the process confusing for students seeking to avoid high hourly rates and citations.

The most basic permit offered for students is the free “Student Day Permit,” which enables students to use the UI’s public parking facilities without fear of a ticket. However, it does not guarantee a space nor omit the student from paying an hourly rate and is only available to students not living in residence halls.

While students can avoid real-time payment of parking by obtaining a parking access card, this does not wholly alleviate the burden of paying for parking, as payments are then charged to a student’s U-Bill with a lengthy two-month delay. It does, however, allow students to access certain gated surface lots after hours.

For students with vehicles who do live in residence halls, they must pay for parking out-of-pocket or use the Hawkeye Storage Lot, located about two miles away from the main UI campus. To reach the Hawk Lot from the Pentacrest, students without vehicles must make a one-hour walk, take a 25-minute Cambus ride when available, or pay for an Uber ride there or back.

On top of that, the Hawk Lot is not free to use. Students must pay for a $189 Hawkeye Storage Permit every semester if they wish to park in the lot. The DI Editorial Board believes the UI should lower this rate to accommodate students for the inconvenience they face when trying to reach the Hawk Lot.


Additionally, the methodology used by the UI when ticketing drivers should be updated to reflect a similar system used by the City of Iowa City. 

Currently, there is no warning ticket issued to vehicles parked in the wrong lots or without a permit. Specific citation rates can be found on the Regulations, Enforcement, and Appeals page of the UI Parking & Transportation site, but generally run higher for vehicles without permits than those with student permits. 

These rates are too high given the standard set by the City of Iowa City Transportation department, which only tickets vehicles a $7 citation on their second offense, issuing a warning for the first offense at an expired meter. The rates incrementally rise by $3 to $5 for every offense. 

Contrarily, UI Parking & Transportation will charge students immediately without warning if parked at an expired metered space. The citation rate for a student with a permit is $8, and $15 for a vehicle with no permit. These rates stay consistent per offense. 

If a student makes it to three offenses parked at an Iowa City meter, they will be charged a total of $19. If a student without a permit makes it to three offenses at a UI meter, they will be charged a total of $45. The DI Editorial Board believes UI Parking & Transportation should set their standard of parking and citations to reflect that of the city and lower ticket rates for students. 

Furthermore, most UI surface spaces are monitored Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. While meters are free past 6 p.m. and every Sunday for Iowa City, there is no such exemption for UI gated lots and ramps, which require payment 24/7 unless one has a prepaid parking pass. UI Parking & Transportation should also set their standard hours to reflect that of the city by making their facilities free for all to use on Sundays and after 6 p.m.

Editorials reflect the majority opinion of the DI Editorial Board and not the opinion of the publisher, Student Publications Inc., or the University of Iowa. The DI Editorial Board consists of Sabine Martin, Parker Jones, Evan Weidl, Jordan Coates, and Marandah Mangra-Dutcher.

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