AU parking prohibitive

Are you a student who owns a car and attends AU at the same time? If your answer is yes, then do you use your car to commute to AU? If your answer was yes again, then you are out of luck. A lot of AU students who live out of the District have no other choice but to drive to campus.

I currently live in Great Falls, Va., which is 40 minutes away from AU, and I started attending AU two years ago. The parking fees then were almost half the current price. Compared to other universities in the area, the price was just and reasonable. However, this year AU has raised the parking fees for commuter students to $800 a year, which means $400 a semester, excluding the summer semester. If you add the summer term, then we are looking at a total of $950 a year. This amount adds up to be worth three round trips across the country. Why is it that AU, among all other universities in the area, has raised their parking fees? If you arrive at the parking lot, especially in the morning, you keep driving around for 10 minutes at least during peak times so that you can find a spot. Students are restricted to the Nebraska lot, and by facing all these hassles during parking, let alone the verbal fights that break out when several students are trying to park and only one spot is available, then waiting to cross the street, the price is high and unjust.

A lot of students have found alternatives, as some stopped buying the parking sticker and would park in the adjacent neighborhoods where the parking zone allows a three-hour parking time if no permit is displayed on the car. On the other hand, some students will park in the meter space on campus, which is over-priced. But wait, did AU leave the students who found these two alternatives alone? Of course not. If you are parked in the public parking zone and you do not have a D.C. zone area permit, or if your tags are not D.C. tags, then you will get ticketed because AU officials assume that you are an AU student who did not purchase a parking sticker. Who gave AU the right to go out of its premises and start ticketing people out of the blue? Is there even a law that supports these actions held by AU? Residents of the neighborhood of AU are human and most of them will have company from out of town; how would AU know the difference if these were students or not, and how can they ticket them? In my opinion, the neighborhood beside AU is out of AU's jurisdiction, and they have no right to ticket people parking there. These unjust and unauthorized actions from AU's side are forcing students to buy the parking stickers with these high prices. In other words, they are blackmailing students, which is illegal.

A lot of students could afford to buy the sticker, and park on AU premises, but what about the students who have to be in debt in order to pay school fees? When you add this amount of money, which is not small, on their shoulders, that means more debt. Universities are supposed to be a transition station in students' lives that helps them in planning a new and promising future, and not graduating to see that they are in a swamp of debt. AU should find solutions for the parking fees and at least lower the prices by 20 percent as an encouragement to the students to buy the stickers and park on campus.

Hamad Alhaj is a senior in Kogod School of Business.

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