Groups ask for cheap parking

Elizabeth Cook

Graduate and professional students are looking for a place to park.

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly unanimously passed a resolution last week in support of discounted weekend and night parking for graduate and professional students in a number of parking ramps around campus.

Students would likely pay about $10 to $20 per semester for ramp parking, but details haven’t been finalized.

GAPSA will be pairing with the Council of Graduate Students, which passed a similar resolution a week earlier, to talk with Parking and Transportation Services administration about the feasibility of this program.

With the new plan, graduate and professional students could park in empty spaces left by faculty and staff at night and on the weekends, said Jason Wilde, co-author of the resolution.

Free Parking On Campus

Currently, students can park for free from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. on weekdays and all day Sunday at the following parking ramps:
– 4th Street Ramp (East Bank)
– 21st Avenue Ramp (East Bank)
– Gortner Avenue Ramp (St. Paul)

Parking is also free if there is an event, but students must enter at least a half hour after the event begins.

Source: Parking and Transportation

Wilde said he thought of the idea when he realized many faculty and staff spots aren’t used at night.

Geoff Hart, co-author of the resolution, said he works in the microbiology, immunology and cancer program in Moos Tower and needs to be on campus nights and weekends.

“There’s nowhere for me to park economically, so I park in Dinkytown,” Hart said.

The parking program would support researchers, which is in line with the University’s goal of becoming a top research school, he said.

Organizers said they hope it could be an incentive for prospective students.

“Graduate students feel they need to come in at night to do their jobs,” Hart said.

Mary Sienko, the marketing director for Parking and Transportation Services, said free-parking options are already offered for weeknights and Sundays, but GAPSA members want more.

“We have to weigh all suggestions based on what is good for the University as a whole,” Sienko said of the resolution.

The new program would add free parking in the Oak Street Ramp, East River Parkway Garage, Washington Avenue Ramp and five lots on the St. Paul campus.

Hart said he also wants free hours to begin at 4:30 p.m. They currently begin at 8 p.m.

Safety is also a concern among graduate and professional students.

Amy Moran, a first-year graduate student in microbiology, immunology and cancer biology, said she is often on campus at night.

Normally, she parks at the meters on East River Parkway and walks by herself to and from campus.

“That’s a long ways, and it’s actually a frightful walk,” she said.

The plan wouldn’t allow free parking for undergraduates who also commute at night.

Amy Meier, a psychology senior said she only takes night classes and walks by herself on campus.

Meier said free parking should be available to both undergraduate and graduate students who are on campus at night.

“There should be some sort of a plus or perk for working and going to school,” she said.

Even taking the bus can be a hassle for some students because many routes don’t run as frequently at night and on the weekends, Hart said.

Civil engineering junior Mark Dummann takes the bus from Richfield and supports the proposed plan for graduate and professional students only.

“I think they kind of earned their rights,” he said. “They earned their keeps.”