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Student housing or parking? These 4 Utah universities approach it differently

Student housing or parking, University of Utah U lot by Eccles Broadcast Center, Jan. 27, 2023
Kristine Weller
A University of Utah U permit parking lot off of Mario Capecchi Drive. The lot serves both the U's medical center and the Eccles Broadcast Center and is frequently full, Jan. 27, 2023.

A parking lot at the University of Utah was ripped up last August leaving students upset over the lack of places on campus for their cars.

The lot east of Lassonde Studios will eventually be home to the Impact and Prosperity Epicenter — providing housing for up to 775 students. While it means fewer parking options, it’s part of the university’s plan to turn a historically commuter campus into a community campus.

The university's chief experience officer, Andreas Thomas, said they are responding to student demand for more housing.

“Coming out of the pandemic, the students have really been wanting to work on campus in greater numbers. They have had the experience where they kind of missed that connectivity,” she said.

There are still options for students who commute. Each receives a Utah Transit Authority bus/train pass through their student card. Students can also purchase parking passes or use pay lots. Most purchase U parking passes that are $150 for Fall and Spring semesters. Thomas said they are looking into additional parking options after taking out the lot next to Lassonde Studios.

Student housing or parking, University of Utah construction on the lot near Lassonde Studies, Jan. 27, 2023
Kristine Weller
Construction continues on the former parking lot east of Lassonde Studies, Jan. 27, 2023. The plot of land will eventually house the Impact and Prosperity Epicenter. It will be open in the fall of 2024.

North of Salt Lake City, in Ogden, encouraging the use of public transit is the focus at Weber State University right now. The Ogden Express Wildcat Shuttle opened in August and is free for anyone to ride. Parking at the Dee Events Center is free so students can easily park and ride.

Jordan Wise, who has been commuting to the university for two years, said the shuttle has made things easier.

“I don’t have to pay for parking at the event center and there’s tons of parking spots.”

Ogden’s bus rapid transit system, which is connected to the shuttle, will be finished later this year. It will go through downtown and Weber State.

“It’s all about access, not only to the campus, but to the greater community,” said university public relations director Bryan Magaña.

On-campus housing has also become more popular. Magaña said there was a waiting list for the first time last fall. In the future, the university might look into providing more housing options, because it can be cheaper than off-campus alternatives.

A public transit project like Weber State’s is already in place to the south in Orem at Utah Valley University. The Utah Valley Express functions the same as the Ogden Express Wildcat Shuttle and is free. The university also partnered with the Utah Transit Authority and the Utah Department of Transportation to create a pedestrian bridge over I-15.

Scott Trotter, the senior director of public relations, said these options have led to fewer people driving to campus. But, Utah Valley doesn’t have any on-campus housing.

“As far as housing goes, it comes down to a budget matter,” Trotter said, noting that UVU partners with companies to house students.

Utah State University, in Logan, is more of a residential campus, so it’s not necessarily experiencing the commuter troubles of the Wasatch Front schools. Of the around 20,000 students enrolled at USU, a quarter live on campus.

“We have the benefit of being in a somewhat smaller city than, say, Ogden or Salt Lake City,” said assistant vice president for strategic communications Amanda DeRito. “So there is a benefit to that because people are going to be living naturally a little closer to campus.”

On-campus housing has been full for the last few years and it too has been investing in housing. DeRito said a dormitory with 400 beds was recently finished.

Students that don’t live on campus can take free shuttles all over campus. There are also free transit opportunities throughout the valley. If students want to park on campus, permits cost about $109 per year.

As for the former University of Utah parking lot, construction will be finished in the fall of 2024. It will also include around 90 parking stalls to the north of the building.

Kristine Weller is a newsroom intern at KUER. She’s only been a journalist for a year but is excited to see what the future holds.
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