Faculty parking fee debated, deserted

530

A campus parking spot for students? $40. For faculty members? Priceless.

After generating as much debate among faculty members as the white paper on timely feedback, the white paper suggesting a faculty member parking fee has yet to receive any definitive action.

Student government passed the white paper in hopes of generating an green initiatives fund from faculty members who drive to work. Additionally, the white paper encourages faculty members who live near campus to seek other forms of transportation. DePauw Student Government President Christine Walker said student government sought to align with President Casey's 20/20 plan of moving towards a "greener" campus by reducing some of the vehicle emissions.

Walker also mentioned that student government decided to request a fee for faculty members because many other campuses require their faculty to pay for parking.

Walker said that since the white paper's distribution to various representatives of the faculty on Mar. 16, little has been accomplished.

"Basically it's kind of the lukewarm answer that we expected which is, ‘We understand the student concern, we will look into this especially in the future,'" Walker said. 

Director of Human Resources Pat Bacon said the cabinet and the Committee on Administration fiercely debated the idea of a parking fee and the details that could make or break it.

"There's a lot more to it than just adding a fee," Bacon said. 

In their discussions regarding the potential fee, faculty members brought up problems with its enforcement, the lack of alternative transportation and other financial burdens already affecting them, such as health care.

"Right now we're having such major conversations around health care...[parking is] not a major priority that is able to be addressed in a real significant way," Bacon said.

Walker said she was surprised by the strong reactions from the faculty, but feels disappointed that so little action is being taken on the issue. 

"I don't think it's the direct turn-around that students were looking for, you wouldn't think a $40 parking pass would be so divisive, but with all the responses they are very resolute on their parking," Walker said. 

Both faculty members and students have strong opinions about whether or not they want to see this white paper in action.

Assistant Professor of Spanish Sandro Barros received the idea with outrage that the student government would suggest such an idea. Barros drives to campus from his home in Plainfield each day and said he would rather bike, but that just seems impossible given his schedule.

"That's crazy," Barros said. "I'm not a libertarian, but that is not how you raise consciousness about going green."

Senior Lucy Grimm supports the white paper because she thinks it would encourage other forms of transportation, and it would satisfy students to know that faculty members would be required to pay a fee as well.

"I wasn't aware that they didn't pay before, so it seems fair that they should have to pay too," Grimm said.

Walker doesn't want the issue to go unacknowledged as the faculty continues discussing other matters.

"I'm just hoping that they will take into consideration the student opinion as the parking situation starts to change as they said they will," Walker said.

Bacon said she hopes she will have an update for students on the progress of the white paper in early May, but until then the debate continues.