At the University, resident students are allowed to keep cars on campus.
Freshmen, however, are not.
This is a known fact and accepted reality for first-year students. But why is it that freshmen are ineligible to purchase parking permits?
Finding the answer to a seemingly simple question proved difficult. After a fruitless exchange with the Parking and Transportation Office, I was told such a decision was made by the administration.
Reaching out to the administration led to a long chain of transfers and promises of call backs.
The most reasonable explanation I have heard is that first-year students are encouraged to become acclimated to their new school and classmates. That explanation seems suspicious to me. It seems more likely that the administration is aware of the scarce parking available and figured it could get away with limiting the amount of students able to take up parking spots with this excuse.
And they have.
After looking into the rules and regulations of student parking, I have concluded that there is no legitimate reason that freshmen should not be allowed to apply for parking permits if there were more parking spaces available.
The current parking system is extremely limiting as it is. It costs $250 per semester for a student to purchase a parking permit. There are only four lots dedicated solely to residential students. To actually receive a permit, students are entered into a lottery because there are so few spots available to students. The lottery favors students that apply earlier, and students closer to graduation.
With such a system in place, many sophomores are left without personal transportation, even though they are eligible to apply for permits. The small amount of parking areas dedicated to students leaves much to be desired. Students have been expressing their grief over parking for years, and the University has done little to fix the issue.
It could be, and often is, argued that the University provides plenty of alternative modes of transportation to students without cars. This is true. Students are able to make use of the provided shuttles, the city RTS buses, or Zipcar services. The shuttles that the school provides are useful and convenient.
But they only go to the bare minimum of where students may want to go, like student living areas, College Town, UR properties, and various shopping centers. If a student wanted to go to an area in the city that our shuttles do not reach, they have to use the RTS bus system. It is a city bus system, so it is accompanied by all the wonders that come with public transportation.
At the end of the day though, it does get you from point A to point B. That is, for a fee. One-dollar bus fare is not unreasonable by any measure, but the fact that other colleges in the Rochester area give their students free passes for RTS buses makes it unreasonable that students at arguably the best school in the area do not have access to such a luxury.
Zipcar is a useful resource for quick trips to the store and the like, but if you plan on staying anywhere for a day-trip, hourly costs quickly pile up. Allowing more students to keep personal transportation would be less costly, less time consuming, and would give UR students a greater sense of freedom and independence.
I understand that city campuses are limited for space, and that parking spaces are not a priority. I could easily fall back on the classic student exclamation of, “We pay $65-grand a year and the school can’t afford to (insert desired amenity here)?”
There have been many ideas thrown around, and even articles in the Campus Times, about possibly increasing parking and building new lots. This is a serious issue to be considered. The University could take comprehensive steps to increase space for student parking.
If these issues were resolved, it would only be fair to allow freshman the same chance to enter the lottery as sophomores, juniors, and seniors.