Issue: Many students like to walk to campus during the warmer fall and spring months, but they lose their incentive to do so when they have to pay for parking either all semester or all-year long.
September can be a beautiful month weather-wise, and so it’s no surprise that many students are walking or biking to campus right now. Across campus, bikes are tied to trees and sidewalks are full, as students decide to walk to save money, be environmentally friendly or to get a workout.
But not all students who want to walk are doing so this year. With the advent of the 10 and five-month parking pass, students begin paying for parking at the beginning of the year or each semester. They will not receive a cheaper pass if they walk for the warmer fall months and then buy a prorated pass when the weather turns cold. These students have lost their monetary incentive to walk because they will be paying for their parking spot every day of the semester or year.
Even last year, students didn’t have as much reason to walk in the spring. If they bought a pass in November, they didn’t have to pay for the fall months but they did pay for the spring months. Instead of walking, many of these students probably drove to campus even during the warm spring months because they were paying to park their vehicles anyway.
SDSU is set to become a walking campus in the future, according to the university’s master plan. If this university is serious about achieving this goal, it needs to provide incentives for students to leave their cars at home for at least part of the year. Granted SDSU students don’t always like to walk a long distance, but we do like saving money. We are poor college students after all.
One such option to help students save money and encourage them to walk during the warmer months would be a winter parking pass. A typical South Dakota winter lasts about five months or at least from the beginning of November to the end of March. So perhaps a five-month winter parking decal could be offered from Nov. 1 to April 1 at the same rate as the other five-month parking decals offered. The current five-month passes must be bought at the beginning of the semester and cannot be used for any five months that a student chooses.
There are other options for those who want to drive in the winter months, but those are currently more expensive than the $60 five-month commuter pass. A temporary parking pass is available for $20 a month, but if a student buys that for five winter months, that adds up to $100. Students can buy a 10-month pass to the All-Class lots for $100. Add another $20, and a student could just buy the 10-month commuter pass.
Currently, SDSU does not have a lot of good, inexpensive options for the winter-only driver. But most people would agree that winter-only driving is better for students’ health, their wallets and the environment. So in the interest of improving these areas, SDSU should look at a winter-only option.
Stance: SDSU should create a winter parking pass so students don’t have to pay for parking if they wish to walk during the warmer months. This will give more students an incentive to walk and move SDSU towards its ultimate goal of being a walking campus.