The University Massachusetts Boston is imposing a new parking fee increase. Currently, a new parking garage is being built on campus, which is meant to replace the closed underground parking garages. One of the reasons for the fee increase is to pay for the new garage, which cost $69.75 million according to the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Kathleen Kirleis. At the same time, the administration and trustees are using cuts to balance their budget since they are currently in a financial crisis.
On Jan. 31, during an Undergraduate Student Government (USG) meeting, UMass Boston Union workers spoke about the new parking fee the university’s administrators are imposing. The union workers were persuading the student government to join and act together to fight against the new parking fee. The students had different opinions about it.
Those who did not oppose the new parking fee claimed that it would not affect a lot of students since the majority of them utilize the "T" to commute to and from campus. They said that some students live more than an hour away from campus, and some of those people take the commuter rail.
Brittany Holemes Weaver, of the student senate, said, "If money is the main problem, then it should be taken into account that others pay more than $15 dollars," as with those students who take the Commuter Rail. Students who live more than an hour away from campus and take the Commuter Rail to travel generally pay between $20 and $25 daily. The students who do not oppose the new parking fee believe that it is a small issue and that it would not affect the education system.
Those who oppose the new parking fee believe that it would only make students have a harder time accessing the campus. Gray Milkowski, the student trustee, wrote in a response letter after hearing about the new parking fee increase that "this campus should be very careful of creating a have and have-not culture at Boston's only public research university as we build some structures that some students would be able to afford and many will not."
The union workers and the students who oppose the new parking fee say that UMass Boston, as the only public research university in Boston, should make its primary goal to focus on providing accessible education services to low-income and/or first-generation students. In one of the union worker's response, they wrote that "the increase is likely also to affect our enrollment, discouraging many students from attending UMB." They are worried that the new parking fee would make students give up on attending classes on campus since it would be difficult for drivers to pay $9 a day, a 50 percent increase of the original parking fee. They are also worried that it would deter prospective students from attending UMass Boston.
The Federal Student Union and the UMB Coalition are currently fighting against the new increased parking fee. For at least this semester, the parking fees will be the usual $6. The new parking fee would not go into effect if the coalition and the union workers are successful in fighting for accessibility for students.