Parking at the College not so cheap in comparison

Commuters and residents at the College pay considerably different prices for parking, especially compared to some other colleges. (Lindsey Hardifer / Staff Photographer)

At $112.35 a year for commuters and $314 a year for residents, parking decals at the College are not cheap — specifically when compared to other N.J. state colleges. Although many students complain about the cost and what they’re getting in return, the administration has said these fees have a purpose, and actually do not cover all expenses associated with parking.

“Unfortunately, the parking decal revenue is insufficient to cover the full cost of providing student parking and the College contributes the balance,” said Matt Golden, associate vice president for communications and college relations. The College treasurer’s office and the facilities department collaborate to determine the cost, Golden said, and the decal revenue is “intended to cover the cost of providing student parking, which includes debt service, operations, and maintenance of the student parking facilities.”

Faculty and staff are not required to pay any fee for parking. As listed on the parking services website, they are eligible to receive up to two decals.

The College’s fee for commuter parking, as well as the policy regarding faculty and staff parking, is comparable to some other N.J. state schools that are similar in size. However, the residential fee is noticeably pricier. According to officials at Rowan University, commuters paid $100 for the 2011-2012 academic year. However, resident students paid only slightly more than that (when compared to the ratio at the College) at $160 for the year. At New Jersey City University, parking officials said the fee for the academic year is currently set at $200 for commuters, but is $270 for residents.

On the other hand, commuters pay more than residents at Ramapo College of New Jersey. However, again the difference in prices is not nearly as great as it is at the College. As posted on Ramapo’s website, commuters paid $214 for the 2011-2012 academic year while residents paid $200.

Meanwhile, at William Paterson University the parking fee is only $100 — for all students — and is included in their tuition bills, according to the university’s website. Students only have to register their vehicles at the beginning of the year, for no extra charge.

Some students at the College, however, have expressed concerns that there are plenty of parking problems despite the price they are paying for a decal.

“I think it’s outrageous that the school has continued to bumble the parking situation for commuters. They allow the on-campus parkers to occupy the best spots while the commuters, who use their car every day, have to park on the roof,” said Miguel Vasquez, senior finance major. “TCNJ doesn’t want to fix it because they make more money off the residents, and that’s all they care about.”

Another off-campus resident shared similar feelings.

“(The fee is) ridiculously expensive, especially considering that the spot you will get will usually be awful,” said William Hubbard, senior finance major.

According to Golden, the College’s traffic appeals board has occasionally received comments about the lack of available parking spaces. However, Golden said, “Many of the appeal comments do not match daily parking survey information, which indicates parking spaces being available.” He went on to say that “the issues more likely relate to the convenience of the parking space and/or not wanting to spend time trying to find a space. This has been particularly noted for those who park in Lots 3-6, as the upper level(s) in the Lot 6 garage rarely fill.”

Some students choose to risk getting a ticket instead a purchasing a decal. At $50, the fine for not having one is much cheaper for both commuters and residents. Others, however, have different reasons for not registering their vehicles.

“(The decal price) is pretty extreme, but I have a roommate who chooses to not get the decal because she’d have to pay a bunch of tickets if she registered her car,” said senior journalism major Julia Ireland. “However, her tires get locked if she gets one more (ticket).”

Both Vasquez and Hubbard commented on a lack of security in the campus lots. “There is nothing stopping anyone from going into one of our parking garages and looking around,” Hubbard said. “This only affects people with expensive cars though.” On the other hand, Vasquez said his car has been hit twice while parked on campus, but he chose not to notify police because he knew they “wouldn’t follow up on it.”

Nevertheless, Golden said Campus Police conducts regular patrols in the parking lots, and regular surveys of the parking spots are performed to monitor capacity. Furthermore, according to Golden, video surveillance is an aspect of campus security procedures that “has and will continue to increase.” However, Golden did not say if this technology is currently being used in the College’s parking lots, and said he could not give security specifics “without compromising its effectiveness.”