Amended parking rules stir protest

by John Adams

The recent extension of parking enforcement hours on the St. Paul campus has student groups up in arms, claiming that although they’re the ones most affected, they didn’t give their consent to the Jan. 19 change.
The new parking policy has irritated students and professors who say the policy needlessly forces students to pay for parking when the campus is virtually empty.
Before the changes went into effect, the St. Paul campus did not enforce parking in its contract lots after 4:30 p.m. According to a letter from the St. Paul Board of Governors to Parking and Transportation Services director Bob Baker, the relaxed enforcement of the past was the result of an oral agreement with former University President Nils Hasselmo.
The St. Paul campus meter enforcement now goes 7.5 hours beyond what the city of St. Paul enforces for its meters, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., according to the Office of St. Paul Traffic Operations.
The most recent letter of opposition sent to Baker was from Professor Gary Reineccius, director of graduate studies in food science.
Reineccius said the two changes impacting students most are the extended enforcement of contract lots — which are now enforced through 7 p.m. — and extended enforcement of parking meters from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The St. Paul Board of Governors, student groups in the College of Biological Sciences and the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences sent letters to Baker in protest of the changes prior to Jan. 19. The letters cited the lack of demand for parking after 4:30 p.m. and safety issues as reasons to keep the parking policy status quo.
All three of these student groups were involved in the parking policy discussions prior to Jan. 19, but were not part of the meeting at which the parking policy was implemented.
A letter from Baker states the changes were instituted because “enforcement has an immediate impact on accessibility of parking, control and economical operations.”
Another memo from Parking and Transportation Services to the St. Paul Board of Governors states that the policy “provides for consistent, simple and justifiable enforcement time frames” and that the guidelines do not “vary greatly from what’s occurring in reality.”
The St. Paul Oversight Committee, which is mostly made up of St. Paul campus deans, ultimately approved the changes along with Parking and Transportation Services.
Alan Hunter, associate dean of the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, said he notified many students about the proposals and that he still regularly receives e-mail from students saying the policy needs to be scrapped.
The former system worked well for graduate students who often work late on campus, such as Devin Peterson, graduate student in food science. Peterson said now he parks in the Como neighborhood about four blocks away when he works late, rather than paying for parking in the lot next to the building he works in.
A point brought up by students and faculty is that most of the parking lots on the St. Paul campus have cleared out by 5 p.m., unlike the Minneapolis campus where more night classes are offered.