Effective this year, Kalamazoo College charges $90 for commuter student parking permits and $120 for on-campus students. Alternatively, students can buy passes on a quarterly basis, paying a third of the price at a time.
Before implementing this change, K was one of the few schools that allowed students to park for free. Because of this, some students have parked on campus for free since their first years, including Emily Salswedel K’16.
Along with all other students, Salswedel received a campus-wide email this summer from Eric Wimbley, Director of Security, which instructed her where and how she could purchase a parking pass. According to Salswedel, she was initially angry, and has decided not to purchase a parking pass.
“Everyone parks in the streets here and there’s no ticket because you don’t need a pass,” Salswedel said. “I was here last night until 11 o’clock, parked right here on [Thompson Street] and there were five or six cars out there, and no one had tickets.”
According to the Motor Vehicle and Parking page on K’s website, Sophomore, Juniors, and Seniors can park at any time in the parking spaces in part of Trowbridge, the athletic fields, Severn and Acker Lane. Commuters can park in any student lot from 6 to 2 AM.
Salswedel lives three and a half miles from K, and is on campus primarily for classes and rehearsals that frequently last until midnight. According to Wimbley, it is okay if people don’t pay for a parking permit, because many students will not need one.
“Street parking is available to everyone,” Wimbley said. “But students need to be aware of what signs are saying because the city enforces the rules strictly. We don’t ticket — the city does, and they have very little forgiveness.”
Sometimes Salswedel drives down Thompson St. and Academy St., and after searching through all the lots, is still unable to find a spot, she said.
“Why would I pay $90 to not have a secure parking spot?” Salswedel said. “There are more people here than there are parking spots. At my high school, parking passes were 20 bucks, and they made sure there was enough spots for everyone to park, and here, that’s not the case.”
According to Wimbley, this is no longer a problem, as there has already been a decrease in the number of cars on campus, as well we less traffic.
“Students who don’t need cars won’t bring them if they have to pay for a permit,” Wimbley said. “We’re also trying to increase alternative vehicle parking. Less cars means more safety.”
Wimbley said the College’s main concern is safety. Tickets are issued for parking in the wrong areas.
“We really would like students to understand that we would like them to park in the right areas,” Wimbley said. “They need to read the signs. We don’t like giving tickets. We really don’t.”