Editorial: Parking problems highlight student attitude

Parking sucks. At least, that’s what most students who have a car on campus seem to think. Long-term permits are expensive, short-term spots are hard to find, and the chances of being ticketed seem unusually high. No one likes to pay for parking, and these parking issues are inevitable in just about any city – but is it possible that it’s worse here at Case Western Reserve University? Or in Cleveland in general?

Many students with vehicles are in a state of habitual irritation with the parking situation around University Circle, but recent changes to the CWRU parking policy have fueled additional outrage. Several areas around campus that were previously available for free after 7 p.m. and on weekends are now being ticketed.

According to the CWRU police department, these are metered spots that have always been enforceable, but until now enforcement has been lax. These spaces are intended for short-term visitors to campus, but are often filled for longer periods by residents who simply do not want to pay for a permit. Enforcing the meters is intended to improve visitors’ experience on campus and encourage residents to invest in long-term permits.

This brings us back to one of the primary reasons for students’ frustration: permits are costly, sometimes prohibitively so. Some parking areas don’t seem worth the money: students with permits for the Southside lot by Fribley (which cost around $250 per semester) have complained that security officers are rarely present in the watchtower there.

The Village parking garage, which costs over $300 per semester, is nicer – the garage is gated, guarded, and covered from snow – but it is also a significant walk from the residence halls, in a rather sketchy part of town. Most students who have experience with on-campus permits argue that the prices are unreasonably high for what you’re getting. For this reason, upperclassmen often choose to find housing off campus or move into their Greek house.

The CWRU police department has maintained that they only enforce the parking policies around campus; these policies are decided by university administration. And students are clearly dissatisfied with these policies. They cannot help but wonder if, for lack of better words, they are being ripped off.

This brings to light the underlying issue: students are unhappy, but they’re taking a less-than-productive approach to their problems. They complain about the parking situation as if CWRU is consciously ripping then off. But they have yet to ask for an explanation of or change to the policies.

Students should expect, even demand, transparency from the university. It is not unreasonable to question the reasoning behind the campus parking fees. Perhaps if the university provided an explanation as to why parking is so expensive, students would be less inclined to jump to conclusions.

A university relies on its students, more than we realize. We are by no means powerless to effect change to these policies, but to do so we need to change our attitude toward the administration.

We should not feel alienated from the university’s higher-ups; we should view them as a resource rather than an authority. This is the kind of attitude that fosters a healthy relationship and ultimately builds a successful university.