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A sign outside of a campus parking lot. Josephine von Dohlen | Col­legian

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.