‘An insult to commuters’: Parking fee implemented after semester delay

Katie Langley, Associate News Editor

Quinnipiac University commuter students have to pay to park this semester, and many students said they are left feeling frustrated with the new imposed fee.

The university enforced a $90 parking fee for commuter students on Jan. 24, after postponing its implementation for the fall 2021 semester after negative student feedback.

“​​Public Safety is patrolling all university-owned parking lots and ticketing vehicles of students who have not paid the parking fee,” said John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations. “First-year students who have brought vehicles to campus without approval from Public Safety also will be ticketed. Vehicles that are ticketed may be towed at their owner’s expense.”

Commuter students who park on campus without the proper permit will be fined $40. (Daniel Passapera)

Morgan said that students who do not have parking passes will be fined $40. 

Chief Experience Officer Tom Ellett originally announced the fee in an email to commuters in February 2021, which sparked protests and petitions as students noted the added financial strain. 

Thomas Cherneskie, a junior biology major and commuter student, said that the fee is “the cost of an additional textbook for parking that isn’t even guaranteed.” 

“I think the commuter parking fee is an insult to commuters,” Cherneskie said. “For most, commuting was a decision based not on the desire to commute but one based on financial need.”

I think the commuter parking fee is an insult to commuters. For most, commuting was a decision based not on the desire to commute but one based on financial need.

— Thomas Cherneskie, a junior biology major

Cherneskie said that the decision involves not being able to pay for both the university’s private school tuition and the added cost of living on campus. Though the new fee does not cost as much as room and board at Quinnipiac, Cherneskie said it is still a financial burden to those who commute to the university every day, which could push potential commuters away from coming to the university. 

In Ellett’s original email, he pointed to higher GPAs and an 11% greater retention rate for students who live on campus. 

“We believe that living on campus can offer you a rich set of developmental opportunities that enable you to advance your personal and vocational passions and to thrive academically and interpersonally,” Ellett wrote in the email to commuters. 

However, Cherneskie said that this is not a feasible option for all. 

“As commuters, we did not choose to remove ourselves from this college experience,” Cherneski said. “Simply being a commuter already makes it more difficult to partake in many activities, making it more difficult to have the same experience afforded to those who live on campus.” 

Many students said they had difficulty finding parking in North Lot, further compounding the issue for those who live off-campus. Cherneskie said that this issue is worse for those who are forced to drive their vehicles to campus. 

“So many of the existing commuters struggle time after time to find legitimate options for parking,” Cherneskie said. 

Ashleigh Perisco, a junior health science studies major, commutes to campus and said that the lack of parking availability makes the fee less acceptable. In May 2021, The Chronicle reported that there are 2,702 total parking spots between North, Hogan, Hilltop, Whitney, Westwoods and Whitney Village lots. 

I would honestly like to know what the money is going towards, and my first concern was we are paying for parking without guaranteed parking.

— Ashleigh Perisco, a junior health science studies major

“I would honestly like to know what the money is going towards, and my first concern was we are paying for parking without guaranteed parking,” Perisco said. “I would be more accepting of the parking fee if I knew I wasn’t going to have to drive in circles for 30 minutes every day and potentially be late for my classes.”

Added travel time is also an issue for sophomore law in society major Rebekah Lagassie.  Lagassie said that on top of the hour it takes her to drive to school, she often has to factor in time looking for parking in Hogan or Whitney Village lots to her daily commute because North Lot does not have spots. 

“I would understand resuming the fee if it somehow improved the parking situation, but I still have yet to see any improvement in the situation,” Lagassie said. 

Until parking is fixed, Lagassie said that it should be free for commuters. 

When it comes to finances, Perisco said that she could afford the fee because she works outside of school. However, she said that this is not always the case.  

“I know for others this could be an additional stressor if they don’t want to ask for parents and guardians to pay or don’t have that financial support,” Perisco said. 

Perisco said she understands that the university has to raise funds, but it should also consider students who struggle financially. 

With 27% of the university’s population coming from the state of Connecticut, Cherneskie said that the university should do better at building a connection with those who live nearby. 

“This school should be fostering a welcoming attitude toward those in the area who choose to attend, being that it is almost exclusively known as a regional university,” Cherneskie said. 

Instead of being welcoming, Lagassie said many students who live near campus are left feeling unappreciated. 

“Commuters get forgotten about in all sorts of ways,” Lagassie said. “We get the worst meal plan, we get terrible parking situations and we have often the farthest walks on campus. How is it fair that we have to pay to potentially not even get a parking spot or spend time circling the parking lot to try and find someone walking to their car so you can take it?”