It’s time for UMass parking services to go

Maybe it’s time to rethink the entire system


Abigail Charpentier / Daily Collegian

By Zach Leach, Collegian Contributor

Since I arrived at the University of Massachusetts I’ve noticed one organization in particular that continues to render itself completely useless: UMass Parking Services. My first interaction with them happened months before this semester began when I reached out with a couple of questions about parking on campus. As anyone who’s ever had an experience with them probably could have guessed, they were not very helpful. In fact, I have never heard of anyone having an experience with Parking Services that wasn’t tedious and excruciating.

I should say that writing this article was largely motivated by the $60 parking ticket I received last week. Despite the obscene cost of this ticket, my issues with the situation were mostly based on the principle. Admittedly, I was parked in a lot that I did not have a permit for. This lot, however, is massive and was mostly empty. Who was I inconveniencing by parking my car there for a couple of hours? I could see the issue if the lot was almost full and people who had paid to park there couldn’t, but this was not the case.

The problem here is not just Parking Services; it’s how UMass handles parking in general. The system currently in place forces students to pick one lot and that is the only place they can park for the rest of the semester. That said, the only lots that are ever available to purchase passes for are tucked away in various corners on campus.

For example, I live in Orchard Hill Residential Area and the only lot that was available for me to purchase a permit for was Lot 11, across campus near the football stadium. Those who are familiar with the UMass campus are aware that this is no leisurely stroll. This journey is nothing short of a harrowing pilgrimage made only worse by the unforgiving elements of Massachusetts weather. So, whenever I need to use my car, I have the option to either take the bus to that parking lot (which feels annoyingly counterintuitive) or walk through the rain, snow, sleet or hail that decides to terrorize campus that day.

After approximately 30 seconds of critical thinking, I came up with a solution. At the beginning of every semester, students pay a flat rate to receive a parking pass, and this allows them to park in any lot they want, whenever they want. This would include exceptions such as faculty lots and metered parking, but now students would have the freedom to park anywhere there is a spot available. I would no longer have to walk half an hour to get to my car when there is a perfectly usable, mostly empty lot two minutes from my dorm. And if that lot happened to be full, I would simply try the next closest lot. Regardless, I’ll end up parking much closer to my dorm and wouldn’t be forced to pay outlandish fines for parking at a school that I already pay to park at.

I don’t believe the University of Massachusetts would ever actually implement this progressive plan. Every parking ticket they hand out is another $60 in their pocket. They say you shouldn’t park in lots you don’t have permits for, but that’s exactly what they want you to do. There’s too much profit in the parking ticket industry, and the capitalist Parking Services love nothing more than to exploit the proletariat student.

If this plan was ever put into effect there would be no more need for parking services on campus.  Have you ever tried to call parking services? If so, I can guarantee they didn’t answer the phone and I’m willing to bet they never returned your call. The parking system at UMass works against students and is designed to make the University as much money as possible. Sure, the University could build a couple more lots and make some money by charging more students for parking, but that profit would most likely pale in comparison to the amount brought in from parking tickets.

I believe a campus without strict parking regulation is the best-case scenario for this University. UMass sees their abhorrent parking system as a business, and it’s not one they’re going to get rid of any time soon.

Zach Leach can be reached at [email protected].