Parking gone weird

Like so many other students at Northern Kentucky University, I’m a procrastinator. I wait until the night before it’s due to write a term paper, and hours before a midterm to study. So, in the interest of being consistent, I waited until the last day to get my parking pass for this semester.

I had looked up Parking Services’ new location on NKU’s Web site the night before. The address was alien to me, but I recognized the picture on the Web page — a multi-storied parking garage. The contact-information page says, “Our new office is located across from the Bank of Kentucky Center Arena near the top level of the Welcome Center Garage.” After seeing the picture I thought I had nothing to worry about. I was wrong.

I left my house at 7 a.m. and parked in the rear of campus near the old parking services building and marched with full confidence down to the parking garage. This is when my suspicions were first aroused.

It didn’t look like there was an office inside. I walked every level of the garage, looking for an office and found nothing. Feeling like a complete idiot, I noticed a fellow male student staring at me with a grin on his face. “Dumb freshman,” he probably thought.

I’m a junior.

Ten minutes later, after asking two maintenance workers where the building was, I found it. One would think that a picture of the actual building would be appropriate for the Web page. But who am I to question NKU’s infinite wisdom?

There were at least 30 students ahead of me. No one talked. It was a bunch of weary-eyed procrastinators with huge cups of coffee shuffling like zombies into the building. There was little life in the bunch of us. After all, were waiting in line for a parking pass, not a Playstation 3.

When someone walked out with new a pass, some scoffed; others looked like they were going to murder him for the precious piece of plastic. After 15 minutes of waiting outside in the cold morning air, I finally made my way in.

The inner sanctum known as Parking Services is somewhat like a doctor’s office. The room is sterile; four clerks with grim expressions on their faces sit behind a white counter distributing passes like the mandatory paperwork you fill out at a check up. Every couple of minutes a clerk shouts, “Next!”

I noticed the kid in front of me jump from the clerk’s yell. He walked up with a nervous look on his face, like he was about to find out the results of his STD test or something.

You can’t hear anything the clerks say to the students. They whisper to people like it’s a drug deal. I imagined it going down something like, “$90 gets you a few months supply and it’s $175 for a years worth.” The junkie in front of me made the deal, and walked out with his supply. By the look on his face I could tell he was already getting high off it.

When I asked for a semester pass the young clerk said, “That will be $90.” Just the mention of the amount made me sick to my stomach. I reluctantly handed her the cash. After a few moments of silence for the dead presidents I just sacrificed, the clerk hands me what I had searched so long for. I finally had it. My lost ark! My holy grail! My lime green parking pass! “Whew! What a relief,” I thought to myself. The day hadn’t really started, and I was already stressed out.

Afterwards all I could think about was how much of a hassle that was. Then I became angry. For the first time I realized how screwed up NKU’s parking pass system is.

Honestly, why does NKU make the expiration date on passes the second week of the following semester? They know that it’s too much temptation for a student to resist. Yes, I admit I shouldn’t have waited. But don’t tease me with the expiration date. Do us all a favor and change it, so students have to get one before the semester starts.

Another problem is the price for a pass. It goes up at least $10, if not more, every year. When I first came to NKU in 2006, a parking pass for the year was around $120. Now the rates are $90 a semester and $175 a year — nothing short of highway robbery.

Perhaps a way NKU can erase this problem is by instituting a “career-parking pass.” When a student enrolls, charge a certain amount for a career pass and incorporate it as a one-time fee in the student’s tuition.

Should NKU not heed my advice, and keep increasing the price for a pass, then students should at least get sufficient parking out of it.

Those forced to endure hikes in prices shouldn’t have to park in gravel lots. Students who take night classes shouldn’t have to deal with insufficient lighting in the outer lots. Students who pay so much for a pass shouldn’t have to “stalk” those leaving to take their spot.

While The Bank of Kentucky Center and the new Student Union are signs of NKU’s growth and prosperity, students still suffer from a lack of parking and steady increases in pass rates. NKU is dead-set on attracting more people to the university. Before NKU is host to the number of students of Ohio State and the University of Kentucky, perhaps someone should first figure out where all those students will put their cars, and how they are going to afford passes to park them here.