UMass parking fees are unfair

Parking fees on campus should be reduced or removed for Spring 2021

By Alanna Joachim, Collegian Columnist

What is the first thing people think of when someone mentions the University of Massachusetts? For many, they probably think of an affordable state school that offers great value. However, this is not completely true when it comes to parking fees on campus.

As the semester comes to an end, many students, like myself, are taking a look at their financials for the coming spring and fall of next year. Whether students are off campus in the Amherst area, on campus or living at home, students with in-person classes in the spring must consider how they will be parking on campus if they choose to bring a vehicle or commute.

The cost of on-campus parking permits range from around $300 to $400 for UMass students, an astronomical amount to make students pay when they may only be visiting campus once or twice a week for in-person classes. It is unfair to make students pay absorbent amounts for on-campus parking, especially during the pandemic.

I have a friend who is commuting from home once a week, almost two hours each way, just to go to her organic chemistry lab for a couple hours. Not only is she spending money on gas, but she must also pay for parking on campus while she is here. Students with in-person classes have almost no choice except to buy a parking pass or pay for garage or meter parking, as there is no free parking on campus.

Off-campus students may also have to pay for additional parking fees at their place of residence. When adding these fees onto the campus parking fees, students are paying a large sum of money simply to get to campus and park their car for the hour or two they are in their in-person class.

Additionally, on-campus students should be allowed to park in any parking lot, regardless of the permit number they registered for. With the majority of students living in North Apartments or the Commonwealth Honors College dorms, there is little to no use of the other parking lots on campus besides parking lots 22 and 44, the two most closely located to these dorms. Students who are living on campus should be able to use any of these parking lots, even during the week. If students are paying close to $400 for a parking pass, they should have access to more than just one parking lot, especially when there is an abundance of spots all over campus due to the lower student population.

UMass should simply get rid of any fees associated with parking on campus or greatly reduce them for all students, especially those not on campus full-time. Other options UMass has offered on their website include paying hourly for parking in meters, pay-station, garage or pay-by-cell. While these are surely more affordable options than buying a full year or semester parking pass, it is still a bit unfair to ask students to come to campus and pay for parking, when they had no choice but to take an in-person class that may be necessary to graduate.

Additionally, the price of the lot closest to North Apartments, Lot 44, has always had a higher rate for parking permits, as it is partially covered for snow and sun shelter. This lot’s rate should be reduced to be the same as the others, as it is the only logical choice for anyone living in North Apartments. Since North Apartments and Honors were the only residential areas open for housing selection in the fall, it is unfair to force students to get a parking pass in Lot 44 and not reduce the price. UMass already took this into account with the pricing of the rooms in North Apartments and Honors for the fall semester. For example, if students were planning to live in a triple room in the Southwest Residential Area, UMass did not force them to pay the price of a North Apartment single, as they had no other choice of where to live. The same should be true for parking fees.

UMass is often an affordable choice for many in-state students. However, with extra fees such as parking, UMass is still able to profit off of its students. UMass is forcing students who choose to bring a vehicle to campus to pay large amounts for something that is costing UMass almost nothing, especially during a time when students may already be struggling financially due to the pandemic.

Alanna Joachim can be reached at [email protected]