By: STEPHEN SALISBURY
One of the hottest topics on campus this past week has been the new flat rate that everyone has to pay to park on campus. We even had folks on the local news complaining about this situation.
Basically, at least for this year, you simply have to pay an upfront, one-time charge of $160 to park on campus for the whole year. It used to be that you would pay approximately $5.75 per credit hour.
Now, I’m a double major in economics and sociology. So I like to try to figure out why things are the way they are and what the economic implications of those situations are. The “why” of this situation is twofold.
The first reason is primarily administrative. This new format makes it easier to administer from a paperwork standpoint. It lines us up with every other IU campus in the system, and one flat rate for everyone means less confusion for calculating costs and should make it easier for people to budget for in advance if they now know exactly how much they have to pay for the academic year.
One thing that a lot of folks that have been complaining about this new situation don’t realize is that this covers fall, spring and summer semesters. However, if you are only here for the fall, you just simply turn the tag back in at the parking office after the semester is over and they will refund you the balance for the rest of the year.
Same if you are only here for fall and spring. They will refund you the summer charge and so on. The second “why” of this situation is because the mothership at Bloomington says we have to do it this way. This is not a decision that the parking folks at IUSB had any control over.
Believe me, they understand the challenges that this new protocol represents for our students as well as anybody, and they are doing everything in their power to help students work through this transition.
But, when the folks in Bloomington say this is how you have to do things now, they really have no choice. So, if you want to complain to someone, don’t go running to the local television stations, start calling the folks who are on the Board of Trustees in Bloomington and let them know how inconvenient this may be for you.
If you want their contact information, I will be glad to e-mail it to you. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, let’s look at things from an economic standpoint. I ran some numbers. The $160 you pay up front as a student allows you to park in any of the designated areas of student parking unless you live in housing. (They have to park in the housing parking lots only.) There has never been a single time that the parking office is aware of when every single parking spot for students on this campus has been full.
Granted, you may have to walk quite a distance between your car and the classroom you need to get to, but there is not too much they can do about that other than recommend you get here early.
There are 16 weeks in each semester plus finals week and 12 weeks total between two summer sessions. That’s a total of 46 weeks of parking for the year. Even if you only come to campus once each of those weeks and stay for only an hour and 15 minutes, you are only paying $3.48 for that time to park on campus. That $160 divided by 46 weeks equals $3.48 per week. PER WEEK! There isn’t a parking system in the world that is willing to let you park in their lot 24 hours a day for 48 weeks a year for only $3.48 per week.
If you break that down into a per day charge, it’s 50 cents a day or 2.1 cents an hour. So, even if you were only a part time student, I would argue the new rate is extremely reasonable. If you really want to game the system, my recommendation is to get here early and stay late. Take as many classes as you can handle and take advantage of our 2 cent an hour parking here at IU South Bend.