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Opinion: The price of parking decals should be lowered or eliminated

When it comes to Rollins, there is one aspect most on-campus students are worried about: parking. Mustering up a hundred dollars for a parking decal and searching for on-campus parking causes unnecessary, immense stress in my and others students’ lives, especially since owning a car is now one of the only ways to travel off campus. 

A parking decal should guarantee an on-campus parking spot for every student who owns one. However, at Rollins, finding on-campus parking can be a hassle, especially this past year. 

Since the beginning of COVID-19, Rollins waived the no-car rule for freshmen. With an increased number of on-campus freshmen who own cars, there are fewer parking spots available. 

While there are two parking garages relatively close to campus–one located next to Holt Hall and another on Park Avenue–they do require a solid chunk of time in order to reach most of campus. 

However, I don’t believe there is or even can be a solution to the limited parking issue. My real concern comes from the one hundred dollars coming out of students’ pockets when they are not guaranteed decent parking. 

A full-year Rollins decal for undergraduate students costs $100, which is less expensive than the Florida Southern College and the University of Florida parking decals, but more expensive than the University of Tampa and University of Central Florida parking decals. Rollins is basically average when it comes to the cost of parking decals, but considering the tuition cost, which is much higher than average, it makes me wonder whether parking should be inclusive.

Before any financial aid, Rollins costs $70,026 per year. That is seventy grand from around three thousand students. 

According to the Assistant Vice President of Public Safety at Rollins Ken Miller, as of right now, Rollins makes about $184,000 from parking decals. The college fell 15 percent short of that mark these past few years. 

Florida State University offers completely free parking, and, while I don’t have a clear insight into the college’s budget, I believe there must be some way to make parking free for Rollins on-campus students.

Aside from the financial aspect to this debate, there is a moral aspect. Rollins used to provide bus services prior to the pandemic, allowing students to visit Winter Park Village every Friday evening. Since the pandemic started, Rollins halted this service, meaning a student is required to have their own car or participate in a rideshare system in order to travel off campus. 

If owning a car is now the only method of transportation to travel off campus, students should not be forced to pay to park on campus.

Florida State University provides free parking to students as a public university, and the University of Tampa provides parking decals for less money as a private university. The college’s institutional type does not play a part in the ability to offer free parking, and it is something more and more students are demanding. Rollins should take charge and consider lessening the price or making parking decals free.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur or Rollins College.

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