Staff editorial: Parking garage would alleviate frustrations

A parking garage may finally be in Wichita State’s future.

Students, faculty and staff have grumbled about finding a parking spot for years. The never-ending battle could be resolved in fall 2017 if the Kansas Board of Regents approve WSU’s request for the parking garage, which will be presented during a meeting later this month.

The parking garage, if approved, would be constructed just south of the Rhatigan Student Center, and the entrance would face Perimeter Road, according to a news release from the university.

The details about who would park there, how the permit system would work and how much it would cost are still to be determined.

But it’s hope.

Hope for students who have to park far away from their building, but still pay $150 a year for a permit; hope for faculty who feel like they’re being overrun by students; and hope for visitors who are frustrated with not knowing where to go.

It is the The Sunflower’s concern, though, that the parking garage will be unaffordable for the average student or faculty member.

“Generally you pay more to park in a garage than in a surface lot,” said Lou Heldman, vice president of Strategic Communications at WSU.

That makes perfect sense; a concrete slab on dirt is much cheaper to construct than a multilevel structure. So are students and faculty willing to pay a little extra to park closer?

 “I don’t think parking is an issue for me,” sophomore Chase Sacket told The Sunflower in August. “It’s pretty easy to find a spot. I do, however, disagree with making students pay $150 for a pass. I already spend thousands a semester and that just adds to the frustration.”

Perhaps to ease some of students’ financial need, the university should consider grants or scholarship funds for parking alone. Can’t afford a $150-plus parking permit? Apply for a parking scholarship.

The same could be said for the university’s plans for a 400-bed residence hall on Innovation Campus, which was a recommendation from a 94-page study about students’ needs for housing based on an online survey.

Based on the results, 81 percent of students were satisfied with their current living arrangements, and only 5 percent were dissatisfied, whether it be dormitory- or apartment-living off campus. Meanwhile, 14 percent were neutral.

According to the study, students would pay between $750 and $1,000 a month. Current Shocker Hall residents spend more than $800 a month, while the average student spends $533 on rent and utilities living off campus.

If a new dorm is in the works for Innovation Campus, The Sunflower would also recommend an increase in housing scholarships. Otherwise, populating the new structure will be difficult if the majority of students are already satisfied with their current — and much cheaper — arrangements.

For most students and faculty, a parking garage will be godsend, but only if they can afford it.