OPINION: Students need a new parking fee option during the pandemic


Brian Hayes

Rhatigan Student Center parking garage file photo

As we enter into another semester in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, college still looks different than it ever has before; hybrid classes and minimal in-person events have turned WSU from a bustling campus full of students to what looks like a ghost town with a few visitors here and there. 

One thing still hasn’t changed: the parking fee. Even though most students don’t visit campus half as much as they used to, they still have to pay the full parking pass fee. College during a pandemic is vastly different than it has ever been before, and WSU should have made some modifications to the parking passes to best fit the needs of students.

I understand that parking passes are a reality of going to a college. With so many students and faculty, there has to be some kind of order created or the parking lots would become a battlefield.  If you are willing to pay the extra money, you can get access to more convenient parking that may be a priority for certain people.

After doing some research, I learned that some of these fees also go towards building new parking areas, maintenance, campus shuttles, and salaries for staff.  These are things that are needed, and it does make me feel better knowing that this is where my money is going.

But many of my classes this semester have elected to take a hybrid route, where we complete certain classwork before the week starts and then we have the option of going to a zoom class or joining the in-person class.  This means that at most, I only have to come to campus once a week for shorter periods of time. 

Students may come to campus for things other than classes, such as picking up library books, attending meetings for student organizations, or meeting a classmate to study together.  On the other hand, many students only come to campus if it is absolutely necessary.

Kansas University has developed short-term permit options in light of the pandemic.  They have a 15-use or 30-use daily permit, with prices ranging from 30-90 dollars based on different parking zones.  Compared to the usual cost of 300 dollars, this is an excellent alternative for many students.

WSU should create a similar parking permit for their own students.  If they really are committed to supporting their students during this difficult time, this is just one small thing that they can do to lift the financial weight that comes with getting a college education. 

Many college students have no choice but to work during college in order to support themselves, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic they may be struggling to find work because many part time jobs are no longer available.  The cost of a parking pass may not seem expensive for some, but for a poor college student, it definitely is.

Right now, a parking pass for the Spring 2021 Semester costs 75 dollars.  If WSU were to create a short-term permit option for students, costing anywhere from 20-50 dollars, it would show students that the university is here for them during this difficult time.