CSU Parking: Pros, Cons, and Reformations

A lot of people complain about parking on campus.  Parking permits are expensive, $1.75 an hour (for people who don’t have a permit) gets expensive quickly, and the fines for breaking the rules are too high.  They can be as much as $45, when the parking fines from the City of Fort Collins for parking too long in a two-hour zone are only $25.  It’s not hard to see why people are so irritated. 

Since the parking lots are property of CSU, CSU has the right to charge people to park in them (it would probably be foolish of CSU to make parking free).  Therefore, CSU has the right to charge whatever it wants for parking.  However, having the right to do something does not always make it ethical to do that thing.  You have a right to insult random people to their faces, but it is still unethical.  You have the right to charge whatever price you want for your goods, but not every price is a fair one.  

As for parking fees and fines, there are many students that have very little money and struggle to get by, and the high prices of parking certainly don’t help. CSU could stand to show a little more mercy and compassion to the students.

That being said, there are merits to the parking situation on campus.  First, high prices deter people who aren’t affiliated with the University or are not guests from parking on campus.  If parking prices were too low, patrons of the businesses around campus might park at CSU for lengthy shopping trips.

Second, there is plenty of free parking between 4:00 pm and 7:30 am.  This allows people to attend student organization meetings and other functions on campus at night without having to worry about parking.  

Third, the parking facilities are well-maintained.  They are clean, and they do not reek of urine like some other parking structures do.  In addition to all this, there is a free alternative to parking, and that’s taking the bus.  Parking at the South Transit Center is free, and all the bus routes are free to students.  It might be inconvenient to take the bus, but things that are convenient (getting to park on campus) tend to be more expensive than things that are not (taking the bus to campus).

Campus parking has its positive elements, so the system does not need to be overhauled, but it could use a few reforms.  One of them could be to reduce parking fines of members of the University community with proof of affiliation with the University, such as a CSU ID.

 Another could be for people affiliated with the University to turn their parking receipts in for a partial refund, so that they would not have to pay the full $1.75 per hour.  These policies would serve the purpose of preserving parking for students, faculty, and staff, the very people the parking policies ought to be in place to help, without penalizing them harshly when they break the rules.  Parking rules should not be used to collect money from the members of the University community, but to make sure parking is available for them by collecting money from “intruders” who take their parking.

Recently, Parking & Transportation Services teamed up with Rams Against Hunger.  If you donate $10 to Rams Against Hunger, you can get $20 off your parking fine, unless it is a billed fine.  This is a good policy, as it makes the cost of fines more reasonable.  However, this deal is sadly temporary, it started on December 1st, and will end on the 21st.  This should be in place year-round.  Aside from the fact that it makes costs more reasonable, it also brings more money to a worthier cause than managing parking and facilities.