This semester, students have been spending $70 for parking passes like the one pictured above. The $40 increase from last year has incited various responses from students.
- Photo courtesy of Jessica Brennan

By Lindsay Haislip
News Editor

Many students who returned to campus to register their vehicles for the 2011-2012 academic year were surprised to find that the fee had more than doubled to $70 since last year. Although the response to fee increases is often not positive, students seem to be relatively calm and understanding.

“Personally, I feel that the amount of negative feedback that I’ve gotten has been minimal. A fee increase of $35 for parking for a year didn’t have the impact that I thought it would have and students have been pretty accepting of it,” said Director of Public Safety Jerry Roderick.

Ultimately, the decision was made with the idea that, compared to other comparable institutions, Washington College’s parking fee was quite a bit lower.

“In comparison to other schools, we are still below the mark,” said Roderick. “We’ve always tried to keep our fees down because we realize that we’re a rural college and we don’t have a lot of public transportation, so people have a need for a car here that they wouldn’t in other places; we keep that in mind,” he said.

The College was also able to justify the fee increase based on the fact that it has not been raised in almost 10 years, despite the many improvements and expansions that have been made to campus parking facilities.

“One of the things that the College does pay attention to both is our cost and comparability, and I think the other thing to recognize is that there are costs associated with parking that the College incurs,” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Mela Dutka.

The College has both direct and indirect costs associated with parking on campus, including hanging tags, stickers, painting, cameras, and personnel for monitoring the lots on a regular basis, and lighting for safety and convenience purposes.

“It takes a lot of maintenance to maintain these lots,” Roderick said.

This maintenance obviously comes at a great cost.

“The more we recover direct costs,” said Dutka, “it frees up money elsewhere.”

While the final numbers have not yet been reached on exactly how much additional income the increase will bring, it is certain that students will benefit directly from it.

“Where we can recover some of those costs that we’re already allocating, it frees up money to be directed to other things,” said Dutka. “One of those areas is student activities; student activities and programs is one area where SGA and SEB have done a tremendous amount of work, but there’s still a lot more that students would like to have on campus and have access to.”

“It’s not money going to the Public Safety office or anywhere else; it’s going back into student use,” said Roderick.

Students who feel as though the fee increase came as a great shock and are upset by it are encouraged to take an opportunity to understand the costs associated with the College. Student tuition does not cover the full cost, so the College finds other areas to make up the expenses associated with running the institution.

“We do want to involve students and make sure that they have access to information and have an opportunity for input, similar to the way that faculty and staff do,” Dutka said.

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