How often have you been in a rush to get to class but know that you have absolutely nowhere to park on campus? Regardless of which lot you purchase a permit for, you've locked yourself to one location for a remainder of the year with no choice for changing.
For those permits, expect to pay upward of $300 a semester. This is a fee that many students pay, especially if they’re living off campus.
“Parking and Transit is supported solely through the sale of permits, fines and other user fees. It receives no income from state or tuition funds," according to the KU parking rules and regulations.
The problem with this is that it affects the students and faculty in a purely negative way. Yes, I said students and faculty.
Even University tenured professors are required to purchase these permits. They are forced to pay money in order to park at their location of work, which just doesn’t seem right. You would assume the University would reserve lots that would not require payment on their part, but that is not the case.
And to make matters worse, parking makes things difficult even for the parents and visitors of students. To have a spot on campus and not be ticketed, drivers are required to purchase either a half day, full day or week visitor permit, enabling them to park in either a Gold, Red, Blue or Yellow lot.
For a half day alone, tickets cost $8. Increasing that to a full day brings the cost up to $16. And for a full week, parking costs $58, almost one-sixth the cost of a full semester permit for the Mississippi Street parking garage. It would be better to just park in the Mississippi Street garage and pay a couple dollars an hour to park.
The parking situation not only is expensive for all parties, but it’s unforgiving. Any given person is allowed exactly zero room for error before receiving a ticket. Park incorrectly one time without realizing it, and KU parking will give you a $25 ticket and a hold on to your enrollment until it’s paid off.
Granted, Parking and Transit provides a forgiveness test for first-time offenders, but that does not excuse how high these fees are compared to others around the city. Even a parking ticket on a Massachusetts Street meter is only $5 for a first-time offender. This low cost gets the punishment across to the party, but it isn’t extraordinarily harsh, as I’ve learned from experience.
But KU parking doesn’t seem to care. You can park in a location you thought was covered by the permit you bought and end up with a first-time ticket five times the cost of a City of Lawrence ticket.
And it isn’t like parking is well explained to incoming students. Lots are identified by small signs that can be difficult to notice, unless you are accustomed to the University and are actively searching for it. Many lots share similar color coordination as well, making it more difficult to understand where you can and can’t park.
The system is not well-designed, and it’s implemented solely to make more money. This makes sense, as the parking department does not acquire funds through the University but, in turn, it causes a lot of problems.
Lowering ticket prices, in order to be more forgiving, would be much better for both students and faculty, perhaps even allowing a warning before one’s first ticket. And lowering prices of permits could even bring in more money, as more students could afford to pay for one.
But much of this won’t be possible as long as parking is allowed to regulate itself and make its own rules.
If the University would take more control over the parking department, perhaps these problems could be fixed. Or, maybe there would be a required parking fee on top of all the other campus payments.
Brett Knepper is a sophomore from Newton studying English.
—Edited by Ben Winfrey