Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 — Houston, TX

Staff Editorial:Parking proposal rejection na've

5/15/08 7:00pm

Earlier this month, President David Leebron reviewed the Parking Committee's decision for next year's parking fees. The committee, which had proposed a return to the tiered-surcharge system and cutting Greenbriar Lot's surcharge by half for students, found its work from the past year largely overlooked when Leebron rejected much of its proposal (see story, page 1). We applaud the committee's willingness to listen to student opinion; earlier this spring, committee members presented their ideas to members of the Student Association, generating positive feedback on the possibility of cutting rates to make Greenbriar Lot more affordable.

What we are less overjoyed about, however, is Leebron's rejection of the proposal, which we feel indicates a na'veté about student life at Rice. Sure, freshman are equipped with Houston Metro cards once they arrive on campus, but this public transportation system leaves much to be desired. Houston is a sprawling city not built around a public transportation system, unlike other urban centers like New York City or Chicago, and to believe that each student's needs could be served merely by hopping on the light rail is ignorant at best. What if students' destinations are a little farther away from the railway tracks? And of course there is the issue of safety, since all of us have heard at least a few scary light rail stories over the years. Students thus often travel in pairs or in groups to take the light rail, but this process could prove burdensome for the student who has a doctor's appointment early in the morning.

Because Houston is so large, students clearly need cars to travel the city, and at the same time, the university strongly encourages going beyond the hedges. However, we feel that in rejecting this proposal, Leebron is making it harder for students to shoulder this financial burden. His plan also leaves off-campus students with few options for transportation, since they may live far from the Metro and too far to walk. While Leebron may be making it financially impossible to afford a car, he is also giving students virtually no other choice.

We also feel that Leebron's rejection of the tiered-surcharge system does not reward seniors, who could use a minimized surcharge to park in the otherwise unthinkably-expensive college parking lots. After four years at Rice, it would be nice to have a break and to park in a more convenient location, especially for those students whose residential colleges lie far away from West Lot.

Leebron also maintained that students who park on campus use the shuttles more often than do non-parkers. While this may be true, we feel the line between the two groups of students is hazy at best. A large percentage of students, whether parkers or not, use the shuttles to get a ride to class each day. If part of Leebron's justification for increasing parking fees is to cover the university transportation systems, why make just those who park bear the cost alone? If the university wants to charge students for its facilities, it should remember that non-parkers take advantage of this system, too, especially when deciding how much of the financial burden to put on those paying for parking permits.

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