Parking is an issue that students have complained about for as long as anyone can remember. Well, this year the Students’ Association Senate has finally stepped up and is attempting to make sweeping changes to parking and other aspects of transportation. Bussing, the Ride Home Program, zip cars, shuttles and the cost of meters are all on the list of issues to look at, but the first issue we have decided to tackle is the cost and distance of parking.

The student parking system has not been evaluated in at least eight years. In that time many changes have taken place. Every time a new building is built, such as the Biomedical Engineering & Optics Building or the UHS building, parking spaces are lost. More students than ever are being relegated to Park Lot South and NSRL Lot, while others park right outside their dorms.

Yet all students are being asked to pay the same amount, no matter how far they have to walk to get to their car.

In order to remedy this problem and bring some equality to the student parking system a proposal for Tiered Parking prices has been written.

This proposal would make lots that are right outside of dorms – Hill Court Lot and Towers Lot – the most expensive. Lots that are a medium distance away – Wilson North Lot, River Lot and Valentine Lot – would cost the same as all lots do under the current parking system and the lots that are the farthest away – Park Lot South, NSRL Lot and River Road Lot – would be discounted. Seniority would still be factored in to the lottery, so seniors would still get first choice of the lot they want to park in.

This system is the same that all faculty and staff currently use and has been proven effective. The faculty who want to park right outside their building pay a premium price and those that do not mind walking are rewarded with a much cheaper parking permit.

The faculty and staff refuse to put up with paying the same price whether they are in Library Lot or Park Lot, so why should the students?

I believe that this proposal does not affect only the 834 students who currently park on campus. It affects any student who may want to park on-campus in the future but cannot come up with the $353 projected cost for 2007-08, or cannot justify spending that much money only to park their car in another township – NSRL lot happens to be in the Town of Brighton. If the Tiered Parking system is implemented for the 2007-08 academic year, then you can choose to pay less. The bottom line is that prices are decreasing and students are given more autonomy under the proposed system.

While I would love to just make all parking free or only $50, students must understand that this is not possible. The nature of a de-centralized university is such that each department must be financially independent. This means that Parking & Transportation would never accept such a proposal because this would cause them to have a major deficit.

In order to make any improvements at all, we as students must also be willing to see things from the other point of view. The Tiered Proposal would allow Parking to bring in the same amount of revenue as before, while reducing costs for some students and more importantly, giving students more freedom to choose where they want to park and how much they want to pay.

With a de-centralized university there is no option that will decrease costs for everyone, so the best we can do is strike a balance with Parking & Transportation.Your SA Senate has finally taken action and worked with Parking & Transportation to come up with a plan that is realistic yet still offers benefits and believe me, this was no easy task.

It is important that students vote on this issue on April 10-12 because a large voter turnout at this election sends a strong message that we will not merely sit and complain – we will take action and fight for our rights as students.

So if you want to let the Parking & Transportation office continue to dictate how much you pay for parking, then vote to keep the status quo. But if you want to be able to make a conscious decision about how you spend your money, then vote for the Tiered Parking Proposal.

Geswein can be reached

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