By Kyle Harding
Of all of subjects I hear students complain about, parking seems to be the most common.
The complaints usually center around a lack of available parking spaces, but they are also often concerning the price of parking. Last week we ran a letter to the editor from a group of students arguing for more free parking on campus.
Never mind the fact that the pay lots start at a relatively low $94 annually. Never mind the fact that the university provides a large amount of free parking already, as long as students are willing to walk across Washington Street to get to campus. That was never a major inconvenience to me when I was commuting from Spokane.
It is understandable for students to wish for more free parking, but people who want more “free” things provided to them in life often fail to take into account the unseen costs.
More services being provided at no cost by the university raises the question of whether or not the university will levy a new fee to pay for it. We pay a technology fee, a health fee, a transportation fee and a recreation fee, regardless of whether we use all of these services. Of course, the parking lots are pre-existing, so charging a fee seems to be found money for the school. So it is unclear whether or not Eastern would implement a new fee to recoup the money they charge for parking. If they did charge a new fee, then some students’ desire to park closer for free would be subsidized by students who walk or ride the bus. Asking these people, who do not use the parking lots, to pay for your desire to walk less or pay less is selfish.
Money aside, the real problem is that the proposed solution is not really a solution at all. The closer lots are pay lots for a reason. That reason is that there is a relative shortage of parking that close to campus. The costs are in place to control that shortage and make sure that people who are willing to pay for a parking permit can find a space. If the parking was made free, that control would be gone. People who park in the free lot or park on the street would park there. People who walk or ride the bus would choose to drive and park there. And we would be left with the same problem all over again: not enough parking.
When students get out of college, they will find that the world is full of tough decisions. The solution is not to ask other people who are struggling as much with bills as you are to incur part of the cost for the things you want. The solution is to make a choice: Do you want to park close or do you want to park for free?