Parking: still problematic

Selena McPherson / The News

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board

Selena McPherson / The News

After years of hearing the desperate cries of parking-challenged students echo through the gloomy valleys of Murray, the Murray State Parking Office responded.

“Ha!” the officers said, laughing and counting their tear-soaked dollars. “You want change? You got it.”

Enter the Parking Survey, which was sent to all Murray State students, faculty and staff on Jan. 26. The survey inquires how interested participants would be in a multi-tier parking system based on cost rather than status. This means both students and staff could select virtually any parking permit they wanted – reserved, premium, standard or economy – and therefore park closer to the buildings they frequent.

That is, in a perfect blue and gold world where our basketball team wins the OVC, Winslow Dining Hall becomes a five-star restaurant and the Faculty Hall elevators become teleportation pods.

Initially, the proposed change to our problematic parking system sounds promising – under this system, faculty and staff wouldn’t be the only ones to grace the coveted Blue Zone  (essentially “Reserved”) spots.

Who would take over those spots? Wealthy tenured professors and Gucci-clad freshmen whose parents slide hundreds in their care baskets when en route to their two-story lakehouse.

The university’s proposal – while not official or set in stone – would only benefit the university in the form of cold, hard cash and not the students who have already paid more than enough for a colored piece of reflective plastic.

If the university wanted to have more of a financial cushion for the Parking Office, maybe they should have been a bit more careful in the planning process. We haven’t forgotten the Parking Tag Debacle of 2016, in which the university wasted $14,000 on parking tags that were a size too big. #NeverForget.

The survey prompts participants to answer how much they’d be willing to pay for reserved or premium spots, and the cost ranges from $200 to $800. It doesn’t take an accountant to figure out that the people who could really benefit from having a reserved spot – say, a young mother who commutes and brings her child to campus, a professor who travels hours per day or a student with a physical disability who doesn’t have access to one of the few handicap spots – probably don’t have an extra $800 lying around to shell out.

Consider, too, the hidden Opportunity that could be afforded with this potential change: a redesigning, rebranding and repainting of all parking zone signs around campus. That work doesn’t happen overnight, and it won’t come for free, but leave it to Murray State to spend an exorbitant amount of time and money on something as trivial as zoning signs.

To Murray State officials reading this, listen up: you misheard our cries. We don’t want to spend more on parking and university fees, we want to spend less. We don’t want to be forced further away from our buildings based on inability to pay or housing status. We want to improve the mess that already exists, not create a new one that is wildly more expensive and exclusive.

Additionally, the university’s transportation issues span far beyond student parking. International students – most of whom don’t have cars – struggle to make it around campus and the city using the shoddy bus system, but it doesn’t look like any extravagant proposals to help that population are in the works.

If you want more money out of us, so be it. It’s a request (read: demand) we’re well acquainted with by now. But we won’t be easy customers. You might just have to run us over and pry the checks from our cold, dead hands.