Starting this fall, all students must pay $50 to register vehicles on campus. Additionally, the fine for parking unregistered vehicles on college property has increased from $35 to $75.
As of Tuesday, Hillsdale does not have statistics for the number of students who have paid the fee and registered their cars this semester. According to Dean of Men Aaron Petersen, this number will either stay the same — “about 700 to 800 students per year” — or increase, due to the new way in which students must register.
“They have to go online and click yes or no. It brings to bear the question: ‘Are you bringing a car on campus or are you not?’ And we just think students will be honest.”
If the same amount of students register their cars this year, the registration fee alone will bring in an additional $35,000-$40,000 to the college. This, of course, does not include the fines from parking violations.
The fee will cover not only the college’s costs for the space — a valuable resource on our campus — but it also provides the college with revenue that will go towards “the ongoing cost of maintenance.”
The construction projects that are now consuming both the Dow and Benzing parking lots have dramatically decreased parking availability on campus, causing students to scramble to find spots both in the designated parking lots and in other areas. Professor of Political Economy Gary Wolfram commented on the role that supply and demand play in the registration fee.
“Demand for parking spaces is exceeding supply, resulting in the raise in price. They are simply trying to allocate spots, and revenue is the byproduct. Whoever values the parking spot the most will pay the price.”
This is basic economics, but the availability of spots even for those who register their cars is in question.
“I pay a lot of money to live in school-owned housing,” Sophomore Lauren Adams said. “Not only do I now have to pay to park, but also some dorms like Benzing have no parking lot. I’m paying to have a car here and I’m not even guaranteed a space.”
Additionally, many students living either on or off campus may choose to find alternative parking solutions rather than pay the fee and still risk not finding a place to park. Some may be willing to park their vehicle along Hillsdale Street or near the Sports Complex if it means they could save money. An anonymous senior states:
“I will not register my car this year. As an off-campus student, I’ll never park on campus, I’ll just park on the street. This really only affects people who live on campus.”
“All a fee does is create a disincentive for students to register their cars,” senior Josh Orlaski said. But the college has ignored his advice.
Hillsdale College owns these parking lots. It is their private property, and they have the right to enact this rule. The question still remains: Will students register their cars and pay the fee? Students who want to avoid a fine might, but many students may be disincentivized to register their cars and instead find cheaper or riskier alternatives for parking their vehicles.
Alexis Nester is a sophomore studying the liberal arts.