On Jan. 26, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Kathleen Kirleis sent an email to all University of Massachusetts Boston students and faculty regarding an increase in parking fees. These fees will be set at $15 for the new parking garage, to be opened in the summer of 2018, and beginning next fall, $9 for the Bayside Parking Lot. There were a mix of reactions from the UMass Boston community, mainly a concern for the rise in cost. Students organized petitions to stop the rise and made Facebook groups to discuss the issues surrounding money at UMass Boston. On Feb. 28, Kirleis spoke at the Undergraduate Student Government General Assembly about the upcoming changes.
Kirleis stated that the decision making process was focused on making affordable options for students and keeping the prices lower than most in the Boston area. Kirleis explained that returning students next fall will be able to buy a semester pass that would bring the cost of parking at Bayside, based on daily use, to $5.85 per day, compared to the $9 set rate.
The Mass Media sat down with Student Trustee, Gray Milkowski, to talk about the reactions of the students and the reasons behind the parking fee increase. Milkowski understood the anger of the students. “The students feel that $15 and $9 rates are too much, and they should. That’s the reaction you get any time you increase fees,” Milkowski said.
Milkowski wanted to make sure the students know that he is “on the students' side,” and is just as angry as the rest of the student body. “This is a commuter school and we have to maintain that role in this community,” he said, as he explained his view on the situation. Milkowski explained his position with more depth in his memo to the students. Speaking more on his understanding of the reasons behind the price changes, Milkowski brings more insight to the position of those in charge.
Milkowski explained how “the new parking structure is one of the most expensive in the state.” This is because of the asbestos in the ground surrounding UMass Boston. The university has to send the soil out of state by the truckload to get it approved and ready to be built on.
“We started out with the deck stacked against us,” he said in reference to UMass Boston’s location. Because we are on a peninsula and because of the dangerous soil, we have to work a lot harder and pay a lot more money for anything to be built. “But, we need to put up parking garages, and buildings, and new roads and the cost is significantly changed because of this.”
Other ideas to get the money for the garage were raised when discussing what to do. Tuition increases were proposed but “these were thought to be unfair to those who weren’t going to use the new parking garage.”
Looking toward the future, Milkowski felt that we are “on the other side of the mountain.” Explaining further, he said, “The work that started before I even got here is finally being shown.”
Milkowski is hopeful for the future of UMass Boston, despite these expense issues.