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JMU parking wouldn't be as much of a hassle if parking were free.

Many students run into parking services at some point during their time at JMU. Whether it’s a parking ticket or an expensive parking pass, dealing with parking services is a pain. 

There are a certain number of student, faculty, visitor and paid meter parking in most of the parking lots. If the student spaces are full, students have to either drive around until they find a nearby lot with more student spots, wait for someone to leave or park in a non-student spot and take a fine. Free-for-all parking spaces would help students find spots faster as previous faculty and visitor spots would open up to them.

According to the JMU website, full-time parking passes are $300. Over three years, the average student would end up paying $900, plus fees for seemingly inevitable parking tickets and gas just to drive to school. With 14,749 undergraduate students excluding freshmen, those numbers add up quickly. Assuming about half of undergraduates who are able to drive to campus buy a parking pass each year, parking services makes $2.2 million dollars from parking passes alone. That figure increases when ticket fees are included. Why does JMU parking services need that much money?

Students are already struggling with the ever-increasing college tuition rates — why do they bear an additional burden of constantly dealing with expensive parking rates and tickets just to get to the classes that they pay for? Parking services should be working with students, not against them. They’re abusing the power they’re granted to regulate parking by placing unnecessary restrictions on where students can park.

In the event that a student is running late and can’t find any nearby student parking, they’re forced to park in a non-student spot and face the fine. According to the JMU website, the fine is $25, and it goes up to $30 after ten days. Students sometimes don’t have extra cash to spare to pay this fine. 

While it’s necessary for parking services employees to walk around and make sure people aren’t parking in fire lanes and on sidewalks, other instances aren’t necessary. If spaces were free-for-all except for a few paid visitors spots, there’d be less regulation, and therefore students would have to pay little to no money for a parking pass.

Others have similar criticisms of parking services. It has a 1.2 star review on Google, and many people have expressed their anger toward these excessive regulations. One review reads:

“JMU logic goes something like, ‘let's regularly take away a ton of parking spaces and then ticket all the kids who can't find parking, haha!’ God forbid I find space to park my car in a gravel commuter lot. I was slapped with a ticket and a denied appeal to said ticket. ”

Students shouldn’t be penalized for having to park in a non-student parking space when there are no other student spaces available. If spaces were available to everyone, students could park anywhere without fear of getting ticketed. 

Students have other transportation options besides driving. The bus is a solid option, but it isn’t as flexible as driving to campus because students become dependent on the strict bus schedule that has limited hours. Walking or biking is another option, but it may become difficult in cold or rainy weather. 

If a student has a car, driving to campus is the most flexible option. Parking services capitalizes on the desire to drive to campus and takes advantage of students by charging unnecessary ticketing fees and high parking pass prices. Creating free-for-all spaces, lifting unnecessary parking restrictions and reducing the price of annual passes would decrease the financial burden on students when driving to campus.

Jenna Horrall is a senior computer science major. Contact Jenna at horraljk@dukes.jmu.edu.