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Raw DS Article: Parking Office Issues

October 12, 2008

A few days ago I came across an e-mail posted at work about a series of “town hall” meetings to share information about the recommendations of a so-called “Parking Task-Force” on campus. This group of people had apparently been commissioned by Vice President Robert Gallager to undergo the daunting task of recommending several fixes to the bane of every faculty, staff, student and visitor’s existence on campus: the Parking Office. These recommendations include the following two items that caught my eye:

Raising the cost of a Faculty/Staff permit to $225 per year (THREE TIMES the cost of this year’s price).

Raising the cost of a Student permit to $155 per year (that’s more than DOUBLE the cost of this year’s price).

In 2005, permits cost students $40. An overpriced parking garage was still a pipe dream and promises were made to pave several parking lots (including the one behind Archives). Since then, the garage that no one wanted has become a reality and the lots promised to have been paved are still covered in gravel.

In my own experience, the staff and management of the parking office has provided me with service that is subpar, unprofessional and at times, borderline obnoxious. Officers “on the beat” have been observed “puppy guarding” meters and timed zones, office workers are inherently anti-everyone, and changes in policy by the office provide a headache for several on-campus organizations of which I associate with. These organizations bring prospective students and interested visitors to the campus. Our university doesn’t project a very good image upon visitors to this campus when our parking policies aren’t consumer friendly.

A starting clerical/support person at UND currently makes approximately $20,000 per year before taxes. If these changes are approved as-is, one of these new staff members would be spending 1% of their pre-tax income on parking for work. In a time when food costs, gasoline costs, and other costs continue to rise, is this a responsible decision by the university? The same could be said for students that are spending more and more money on other fees and essentials. The reasoning behind the implementation of these fees, although never mentioned in the e-mail, have everything to do with the lighted monstrosity on the east end of the campus.

Students and faculty should not be punished for poor decisions made by the administration of the parking office. Large fee increases such as these leave those of us on the outside wondering just how badly the parking ramp’s construction has had an effect on the office’s budget. If it is truly as bad as it seems, faculty, staff, students and administration on campus should not be forced to pay for the mistakes made by those in charge of one office. In an ideal world, those responsible should be held accountable for their mistakes: their wages and compensation should be appropriately garnished to make up for the loss of revenue and the department should deal with the impact on its budget using the resources it currently has. Since this is not an ideal world, it is imperative that the impact on those of us not associated with the decision to build the parking ramp be minimized. Doubling student and staff/faculty fees is not the way in which to approach this.

Students, staff and faculty together need to make their voices heard at these “Town Hall” meetings that this is not an acceptable change. Two meetings have already been held. One meeting is being held today from 12:30-1:30PM in Upson II, room 161 and another will be held on Thursday from 2PM-3PM on the 5th Floor of the Airport Administration Building.

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