UTD Uncovered: The Car Squatters

Students have settled into the year already, and midterm failures haven’t even been accepted yet, when word comes from everyone’s favorite on-campus office: Parking and Transportation. Thanks to an aggressive growth mindset that’s flooded campus with almost as many cars as passive aggressive warning signs, students who live on campus will no longer be allowed to purchase commuter parking passes. While this move could be seen as beneficial, it could spell the end of one of UTD’s more niche subcultures: the humble car squatter.

Since the first round of rent hikes at University Village and University Commons, a small number of students have chosen to take up residence in their cars and divert the funds that would’ve gone to housing toward gas and commuter parking passes. The car squatters of UTD have been dodging parking enforcement’s pesky overnight parking ban, as consistently as Temoc’s dead eyes have struck fear into the hearts of small children. In the wake of the new policy change, the AMP investigative team tracked down three of the elusive students and got some insight into their lives.

AMP: What was the main reason that you started to live out of your car?

I. M. Gay: The decision was more born out of necessity than anything else. When I realized that I’d eaten nothing but ramen and dining hall scraps three-quarters of the way through my freshman year, I knew that I’d be making a change. I heard about the car squatters through a suspicious flyer that’d been obscured by a bunch of club activities I didn’t care about.

AMP: Once you decided to live in your car, how did you break the news to friends and family?

Gay: Most people I talked to were skeptical, especially my friends. We tried to have game night in the tent I use for shelter in the bed of my truck, but when Mikey threw the 7” TV through my back window after losing a battle mini-game in Mario Party 5, I knew it wasn’t gonna work.

AMP: Geez, that’s rough. How do you socialize now?

Gay: I mostly don’t. I’m working toward upgrading to orange from green next year, so I’ve taken on doing Doordash when I’m not in class. It has the benefit of helping me earn more money and saving on food expenses when I take two bites from every delivery! I’m on my way to the high life.

AMP: What was the main reason that you started to live out of your car?

[Name Redacted]: There was a day where I was going through Pinterest again to redecorate my room at home when I stumbled across an honestly inspiring piece from The Odyssey Online about how another girl at SMU started to “bum it” and only eat at Chipotle four times a week instead of seven to get a “truer college experience.” I looked into possibilities like that at UTD, and concluded that moving out would be the best way to do that!

AMP: Did you ever worry about your safety living in your car on campus? I mean, you’re technically not in Plano anymore.

[Name Redacted]: Oh, believe me, my parents were freaked out. So they just bought me a bigger Mercedes SUV and tinted the windows. I’ve never felt too unsafe, except when the police almost gave me a ticket for being parked outside Green Center at 3 a.m. the night after I had a test. When I saw them coming, I just drove back to my house and slept in the driveway.

AMP: Speaking of tests, how has your living arrangement affected your academic performance?

[Name Redacted]: It’s made it way easier to skip out on all of the stupid classes, so I’d say that it’s definitely streamlined my experience for the better! Plus I can just leave my stuff in the “apartment” when I go to the testing center instead of trying to find a working locker.

AMP: Uhh, are you sure that’s better?

[Name Redacted]: Yeah! I’m a math major so all I do is take tests. It’s all good.

AMP: What was the main reason that you started to live out of your car?

Johnny: I kinda wanted to commune with the nature of the school. I mean, I’d already started taking up moonlight meditation in the fountain at the Plinth, but I wanted to take that extra step, you know? But I also didn’t want to sell my soul to UV, so I laid a mattress pad across my back seat and haven’t looked back.

AMP: So far, are you happy with your experience?

Johnny: Definitely, man. I’ve started a log of all the different kinds of cryptids I’ve seen from where I usually park on the gold level of PS4. So far this year, there’s been a guy on a longboard that took flight, a mothman-looking guy who came out of Berkner, and even the Son of Temoc.

AMP: How do you cope with seeing that kind of stuff?

Johnny: Usually I’ll just check the door locks and make some food on the hot plate I have. It’s not as dangerous as you’d think; most sparks just fall into the spots where I put out cigarettes on the upholstery.

AMP: Wow, you seem to have it all figured out.

Johnny: I’d hope so. The incense air freshener and Bob Marley throw I have over the passenger seat really make it feel like home. Everyone’s gotta try car squatting, man.

Well there you have it, folks. Better start taking advantage of the lax campus policies as soon as you can before it gets just difficult enough to wipe out your motivation. We here at AMP, fresh off our coveted “Best Campus Organization” title, have decided to be the model of the people and are moving our offices into the biggest car on our editorial board, which happens to be a late-model Subaru. Stop by our new office on wheels to pitch your ideas in the corner of Lot D under the tree! You’ll know the one.