Assmus: University Circle, CWRU parking needs to change

Abby Assmus, Columnist

Around campus, there are plenty of garages, lots and metered spaces on streets. Yet, it is still difficult to park when going to class or work on campus because of the high prices for a decent parking spot. Case Western Reserve University shares University Circle with institutions such as the Cleveland Museum of Art and University Hospitals. We all share the same parking spaces, and the rates to get into parking lots are considerably high. For students who already pay a high tuition rate, and for those who commute to the city, this is a hassle and what I believe to be one of the most pressing issues on our campus.

A standard parking meter in University Circle requires you to feed it every two hours. This only furthers the inconvenience of having to carry large amounts of change or rush to your spot. Most graduate courses range from two to three hours long, clashing with the time limit on the parking meters, making feeding the meter even more difficult. There is no guarantee that there will be a metered spot open on a street near your classes or where you will be for the day, so you might have to park far away and run to your spot throughout the day.

Furthermore, parking rates are simply too expensive for many students to fit into their budget. For a semester, to park in a “central campus” garage like the one next to the Veale Athletic Center costs $398.76 per semester. The lot is not central to all those on campus, either. From the fall semester to the spring semester, it costs close to $800 just to park in a lot that may not be convenient for what you do on campus.

Compared to the parking rate on the CWRU campus, Cleveland State University (CSU)’s plan is considerably cheaper, presenting a more affordable option for students. Located downtown with many other businesses surrounding it, CSU only charges students a maximum of $237 a semester for access to any of their lots. Why is it that CSU can reduce prices for students, but CWRU commuter students and graduate students who do not live close to campus cannot receive a break?

Another parking issue is the unavailability of parking areas for student use. For example, the open lot next to the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Science and the garage underneath are strictly used for the faculty and staff of the school, with no option for students to park there. If you risk parking in that lot, you will likely end up with a parking ticket from standard parking for $25. The problem is that many graduate students are not on campus all day, and often drive all the way to campus just for one class or two. When they come, they risk not having a space to park at a reasonable price, so they have to pay high rates or search for a scarce metered spot.

After being here for almost six years, I still wish that there was free parking around the main library on campus. Often times I want to go to the library to be productive. If I could drive there and park for free for a few hours, it would relieve stress rather than hassling about finding a parking spot.

Sure, there are shuttle services and SafeRide, but these aren’t always convenient. Sometimes you also just want to have your car nearby to leave on your own time rather than waiting.

With many institutions fighting for the limited parking areas, prices are most likely going to be high. But at the current rate, I don’t see how it is affordable for many students. As a commuter student, I rarely drive to class, opting to ride public transit the majority of the time because of how expensive a parking permit was. I didn’t purchase a pass even when I was commuting from a suburb.

School is stressful enough with classes—parking should not be such as stressful process either. There should be more free parking areas, or significantly reduced rates, especially around the library and study areas.

College is expensive enough, and parking is something that should not be so expensive that it becomes inaccessible for so many students.