Opinion: ‘Big stick’ policies: Is parking or sustainability to blame?

Posted on Mar 1 2019 - 5:50am by Sarah Eason

In my head, parking is the necessary evil that governs leasing spaces on campus. However, in talking with my peers, I have noticed a common question: Why replace much-needed parking spaces with campus-wide bike lanes? Any person attending the School of Business can regurgitate the importance of corporate social responsibility and the profit of sustainability within the corporate world, but my stance is as follows: If you want to increase sustainability on campus, you need to improve the functioning of existing resources.

Let’s break it down by concern.

First, there needs to be transportation for students without vehicles. If the university wants to increase the mobility of students without personal transportation, improvements need be made to the existing bus infrastructure. The bus system is an excellent foray into sustainability, and students could greatly benefit from increased efficiency in the bus schedule.

Next, sustainability should be another focus. The process of scraping the existing parking spaces, placing new road lines for the bike lanes and placing physical barriers for the lanes all contributed to the carbon footprint that the Office of Sustainability seeks to reduce.

To add insult to injury, most of the changes took place over a summer, but the prices of permits increased for the following academic year. It could be conjectured that this is due to diminished enrollment at the university and that the permit costs increased per student unit to combat this.

The worst part of this scenario is the ticketing behavior of the Department of Parking and Transportation.

With the policies that the Department of Parking and Transportation has in place, living on campus has become more of a challenge than in previous years. With the same fickleness as a child that continually changes the rules of a make-believe game, the department continually oversells its parking permits and then tickets residents for having limited means of parking legally during and after school hours.

The purpose of parking services is to create a usable infrastructure for the student body, faculty and employees. Somewhere along the way, the Department of Parking and Transportation has forgotten that it is not its own master. The function of the department is to serve the campus community. If it’s the Office of Sustainability that’s carrying the “big stick” in this scenario, then its efforts aren’t increasing sustainability. Instead, they’re reducing emissions by reducing the student population able to lease permits.

Sarah Eason is a senior businesses administration in management major from Navarre, Florida.