September 27th, 2019
Parking pass price gathers opposition in pandemic
SAT. | 03-20-21 | OPINION
This school year has brought an abundance of firsts: first time operating on an A/B week schedule, first time having Monday’s be 100% virtual, first time having everything on Canvas — the list goes on. Some of these firsts give me mixed feelings, but we were robbed of the ultimate first: first time with free or heavily discounted parking passes.
Since the building operates at 50% capacity, in accordance with Plan B of school reopenings, the parking lot is deserted. For in-person students, we only park at schools eight days a month, yet we are paying full price for a pass. There is a surplus of parking spots, so it’s not like you are paying to ensure you get a good spot; I choose a new parking spot each day I come to campus. If all the number of parked cars was doubled, there’d still be enough room for a traveling circus to come.
With fewer people parking, it also severely decreases the need to upkeep the parking lot from excessive use and wear. But even in past years, there was little sign of the parking lots being repaved with all the parking pass money that was collected. Where did all the money go? I have asked this question to teachers, and they had no answer for me. There should be more transparency regarding parking lot funds.
Graphic by Lexi Karaivanova
As seniors, we have to pay the standard $50 for the pass, $10 in school fees and $20 in senior fees. That’s $80 being asked from us to park in an average lot. I could somewhat understand the cost of parking passes if the lot looked stellar or if I could paint my parking spot. But what has bothered me most this year with the parking pass process is how long it has taken for passes to be distributed.
Now, this is my first and only year parking on campus, so I’m not sure what the process was like in the past, but I can safely assume it did not take five months to get a pass. I submitted my request for a parking pass back in August because students were told we needed passes by the end of September. In the weeks after submitting my request, I kept $80 on hand, in case I was called down. But that day never came. Suddenly October passed by, then November, then December and still nothing. It is now February, and I was just recently called down to pay for a parking pass.
“Do you have $80 to give me today?”
Had I been asked that five months ago, the answer would have been yes. With over half the school year having passed, though, I assumed it was no longer worth me purchasing a pass. I had my $80 ready about five months ago. However, nothing has happened to my car or to me because I have been parking without a pass. It’s almost like the plastic pass is the last thing on anyone's mind during a pandemic. Dare I say, the passes are arbitrary.
I find it mind-boggling that anyone could feel fine charging $50 for a plastic pass in the midst of a pandemic that has stalled many teenager’s finances. To put this in perspective, if someone worked minimum wage, it would take them about seven hours of work to pay for only the pass; with the senior and student fees, it is closer to twelve hours. But not all teenagers have been lucky enough to still have their jobs. Because of the pandemic, the unemployment rate of teenaged men and women was around 30% in April 2020. While that has declined, “young workers are still experiencing relatively high rates of unemployment” compared to other age-groups. For students that typically pay for their school materials themselves, the financial stress of pandemic makes a parking pass the last thing worth purchasing.
On top of seniors missing out on all the traditional senior privileges, we are still paying normal prices for college applications (which is about $50-80 unless we have fee waivers) and graduation gear. With that in mind, I feel like free parking is the bare minimum that could have been done to make this year a little easier on seniors and our wallets. For the price of a parking pass, I could pay to send my ACT scores to six schools; I could pay to apply to another college; I could begin purchasing things for my dorm next year; I could sponsor vitamins for children in Jordan for a year; there are much better ways I could spend parking pass money.