Stop the parking war.

Although there are many good things about the new school year, one thing stands out as the crown jewel of the commuter’s back to school problems: parking.

We’ve made it through the first week of class, so now people know when and where to go. Yet almost daily, I’ve had classmates come wandering in a little late, blaming their tardiness on the impossible parking situation.

Professors aren’t immune from the parking woes either. They have to scour the lots like birds of prey, just the same as the rest of us.

The on-campus community may be blissfully unaware of the issue that the commuters face, but it’s a huge problem. We have a record-high enrollment. More students mean more cars in an ever-competitive parking war.

After just a few weeks into the school year, the parking problem normally dies down just a little because students start finding reasons to stay home.

Things come up – life happens – and students naturally have to miss class.

You might be sick or have a family emergency. You may not feel like going to class. Or perhaps it’s a “legitimate reason,” such as when your hamster is in labor or you won a VIP radio contest to visit the Queen (basically those times when you really don’t want to be in class).

While the absences make the parking situation better, it’s only slightly. Far more students would have to be gone before the situation is anywhere close to being fixed.

While the selfish part of me hopes that students partake in the class-is-optional philosophy, I know that their absences aren’t really a good option for anyone who isn’t me.

Instead, as a campus, why don’t we try to park a little smarter? Off-campus students need to get a little creative with their rides to school.

The majority of commuters already know people at the UA. Why not use your prior connections to set up a carpool. You already know your friends’ and roommates’ schedules. The odds are that some of those schedules will overlap.

If that’s the case, then certainly ride together. Not only will you be saving on gas, which is pricey enough for broke college students, but you’ll also be opening up another parking spot.

And really, it’s always more fun to scream Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics when you have a friend along. The car rides are just like mandatory mini road trips.

Another option for Fayetteville students is to catch a ride on the free bus route. If you live on one of the many bus routes and are able to take it, do so.

Riding the bus saves gas money and frees parking spaces, but it also saves time. Buses take students directly to the center of campus, cutting out the time students have to spend walking to their cars.

The difficult part of riding the bus is getting the timing down. The buses have to stick to a tight schedule. So, if it’s Monday morning and you’re running late, you can’t just phone your bus driver and make the entire bus wait. There may also be days when you’ll have a bus that’s running a few minutes late.

You may have to be more accountable, but the buses are generally a very reliable and easy commute option.

Another great way to get to class is by getting some exercise. Several apartments and homes are within walking or biking distance. There’s nothing like multitasking on a busy college schedule, so commuting and getting your daily workout in is always a great option.

Students shouldn’t have to dread the parking spot search. With more students on campus, we all have to get better about maximizing the spaces we do have.

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