OPINION: Campus YMCA parking policies exclude university constituents


Morgan Anderson

The parking lot outside of the new Steve Clark YMCA. Students are now allowed to park in it for up to two hours if they are using the new facility.

Wichita State Chief of Staff Andy Schlapp spoke about the new YMCA on campus to the board of trustees earlier this month. Throughout his presentation about what the new YMCA brings to campus, an important question was brought up — Who is allowed to park in the new lot? 

 If you’ve ever had the opportunity to grace the main campus of WSU, you would know that parking is a problem.  Every day, faculty and students alike battle for a decent spot. Those who live in the Flats and Suites, wonder every night if they are going to find a spot in their lots or have to park across the road at Eck Stadium. 

Now those who know the area might say, “Eck is not that far,” but trust me, that is one serious walk when temperatures are below freezing. If you live at Shocker Hall, your parking options are sporadic until it’s a Shocker basketball game day and lots have to be emptied as quickly as possible to avoid ticketing.

 No one wins with parking. 

That’s why when Schlapp responded and said that no, parking is not available for students and faculty, just members of the community who have a Y membership, a lot of people, including myself, got upset. Students flooded to various social media platforms to express their distaste for the policy. Every fee-paying student has a Y membership. All WSU students are members of the Wichita community. How does us having the distinction of being students or faculty suddenly remove us from the community? 

Students have expressed that sometimes they do not feel welcomed by the university. The way administration deals with processes such as voting on referendums and increasing student fees has left a bad taste in many mouths. This statement of us not being a part of the community increases the tension. It also makes me wonder how am I not a part of the community that I spend so many resources in. It’s a shame that the university has continuously gone to various lengths to show that they do not really care for their students. 

A student receiving in-state tuition and taking 15 credit hours a semester now pays $190 a year for the Health and Wellness Fee. This is what I would call “an arm and a leg.” All fee-paying students are automatically Y members. So why is the parking lot to a facility we’re paying for closed off from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays? 

Lastly, Schlapp’s words just highlight how WSU is gentrifying the neighbourhood it borders. Stating that the Y is for the community automatically shows separation of who they consider a part of the community. According to the Greater Wichita YMCA website, membership cost for an adult is $38.00 per month.

The Y has a program called income-based financial assistance, that will reduce the costs of membership and enrollment in activities. The website offers a calculator that would determine your new rate. I decided to fill out the information of the average family that lives in the neighborhood our campus borders. This included an income of under $12,000 a year and a membership type of one adult plus dependents. The monthly rate dropped to $21.56, a pretty decent decrease from $53.60 a month, but it can still be unaffordable to someone to someone who has to budget $1000 each month.

This price also doesn’t take into account the number of dependents in a family. This is why the membership cost would be considered a luxury for many Fairmount residents. In short, the wealthier a neighborhood, the more accessible the Y membership, and subsequently the campus itself. Favoring more affluent “community members” means that we aren’t accepting those that are around us. 

The Y is nice, it’s pretty. I’ll use it because I’m paying for it, but it’s a shame that even though we contribute to the city of Wichita by simply living in the city, we aren’t truly considered a part of a community that many of us call home.