Opinion: What’s my parking really worth?

by Cougar News Contributor 344 views0

If you’re a student at COC, you have undoubtedly felt the hassle and disappointment of the lack of available parking spots on the Valencia Campus over the last few semesters. The Spring 2012 semester is more of the same, and arguably the worst to date. Even after the semester class drop-date has past, a time when traffic on campus would normally seem to equalize, finding a parking spot anywhere on campus is still a challenge.

Like many students, I understand that with the new library construction still underway, coupled with the emerging success of the University Center, parking is destined to be strained. What I’m puzzled about is the recent cost hike of the student parking permit. As many can recall, the parking permit cost doubled last semester from $20 to $40.

Surely, the school administration realized that parking for the coming semesters would be limited, as the library renovations will take additional time to complete and student enrollment has risen in response to a recession. If that’s true, why raise the rates to coincide with this? Did the COC administration, realizing that some students may find other means of travel i.e.: bicycle, carpool, etc., raise the rates simply to keep that portion of the schools revenue stream consistent? Is it possible that the parking permit increase as well as the coinciding tuition rate increase from $26 to $36 per unit (spoiler alert – it’s about to rise again) was approved simply to counter-act the schools rising debt? If so, how is that the student’s fault?

In addition to affecting our wallets, another issue this parking situation has created is a lack of safety on campus. As students are adjusting to the new length of time it takes to find a parking spot, many are speeding through lots and endangering pedestrians making the “hike” to class. In the last two weeks, I have experienced two near parking-lot collisions. Once as a pedestrian and once as a driver, so occupied with finding a spot, I didn’t see the car speeding towards me.

In these times, I propose that a good use for the “additional” funds generated by doubled parking-pass cost could be the hiring of lot supervisors as well as the installation of additional speed bumps throughout campus parking lots.

While it’s obvious that our state’s economy is in need of help, and that COC has had some financial troubles of it’s own recently, most students do not complain  much about the rising cost of tuition or even the parking permit cost. However, what added value does the student receive in exchange for a doubled parking permit fee? Are there more parking spots? No. Has parking lot safety been increased? No. Is the student population expected to simply roll over and continue to accept hiking fees for everything without explanation or added value? Why should we stand by silent and fork over more dollars to band-aid the sucking chest wound that is California’s mis-managed economy and more specifically, dare I say, that of COC.

Maybe that’s what we are truly learning after all. That the education machine is really no different than government. Fall in line. Pay your fees. Don’t ask questions, and for god sake don’t expect anything in return.

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