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The Parking Problem

As my friends and I were eating dinner and venting at DS after a particularly obnoxious jazz rehearsal, I noticed something that would have surprised me had I heard it before I came to college. We were complaining about Concordia’s free parking.

Just so you understand, I am not a “parker” here at Concordia. I don’t have a car and don’t really plan on being able to afford one soon. This is all from observation from the resounding amounts of complaints I’ve heard about the Concordia parking solution.

So a little background – I was floored upon coming to Concordia as a prospective student and hearing that they didn’t charge students for parking or deny freshmen the right to have a car on campus. Yet just in that one weekend as a visitor, I was baffled about where I could and could not park. Now into my second year on campus, I’ve heard surprising amounts of complaints about the way parking is handled in Cobberland. Many of my friends have been ticketed for overnight parking while they ran into a building to get something. Plenty have been forced to park in a lot in which they aren’t permitted because someone from a different lot took a space in their originally designated spot. I know people who have handfuls of tickets and appeals for each of those tickets that take months to process. Most of my friends who have cars are afraid of driving off campus because they will lose their spot and invariably end up ticketed somehow.
So here’s my idea. Let’s just pay for parking.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, I believe that if we just put a minimal cost on parking, we could solve some of these problems. At no more than $10-20 a semester, I think much could be accomplished. I know there would be some student recoil at another cost tacked on to preexisting expenses, but think of it as a preventative measure for that first ticket you’ll get. In turn, parking services gets a shot of revenue that, at the very least, lets them redo the signage around campus, making it painfully clear where you can and cannot park for students and visitors alike.

With a small payment, their enforcement also gains some teeth. Now that you’re paying for the privilege, those who tread on the policy are actually going against something more than a simple sticker. Many of the complaints I’ve heard are about getting ticketed so often that the school might as well just put a sticker value on a parking space.

I understand admissions might also have interest in what the price is, as it sounded like a pretty strong plus on tour. But as a tour guide myself, I’ll say this: not too many people brought their cars up, and compared to other campuses, it’s still one-eighth of the cost of the cheapest schools. I’ve been quoted rates of up to $200 a semester. I can definitely meet you halfway on that, if halfway means 15 bucks.

Here’s a different idea that could be used by itself or in conjunction with the afore-mentioned price: let’s have parking go free-range. Remove lot designations except for faculty lots or those reserved for certain staff, like the Hall Directors. In my opinion, it’s the easiest way to cut down on both tickets and student complaints. Students will still vie for parking nearest their dorms or the main buildings that their classes take place in, but no longer will it be alarming if those spots are filled and you have to change to an opposite lot. Not getting “your” spot ain’t great, but it would beat having to use overflow parking to get to the on-the-other-side-of-campus apartments.

So that’s something to think about folks, a couple of suggestions from a guy without wheels. But don’t take my word for it – I noticed recently that parking services was holding a meeting to talk about their methods. As with anything, if you’ve got something to say, go out there and say it, and help Concordia help you

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