Going into the fall 2020 semester at Virginia Tech, there have been several changes, one of these being the new time restrictions for on-campus parking. Instead of the 7 a.m to 5 p.m. of the past years, it is now 7 a.m to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday that students cannot park on-campus without a pass. Due to these new changes, students are either forced to ride Blacksburg Transit, find parking in the Town of Blacksburg or are forced to buy a parking pass.
Due to these changes, parking services have created multiple different passes for students to pick from. While these new options are appreciated, they fail to explain why Tech felt the need to extend its restricted parking hours so late.
Mark Owczarski responded on behalf of Virginia Tech’s Parking Services and shed some light on the recent changes.
“At Virginia Tech, Parking Services is classified as an auxiliary service. In simplest terms, an auxiliary service must cover its cost to operate through revenue collection,” Owczarski said. “Costs include maintaining facilities and salaries and benefits of staff; revenue collection is done through user fees. Auxiliary services do not generate a profit; all revenue collected offsets costs to the service or is reinvested into its operation. Policies to operate an auxiliary service is dictated by state law governing state agencies.
“Changes in parking enforcement hours reflect the changes in community activity and the use of parking resources beyond 5 p.m. It is also increasingly more important to manage these resources as surface lots are more and more being developed for new construction. As the campus changes, the need to manage parking resources has become more essential.
“By extending enforcement hours, users of parking resources in the evening will pay a user fee just like those who use parking resources during traditional business hours. Also note that permit fees did not increase this year.”
While this explains why the changes were made, students are still forced to either find limited parking in town or buy a parking pass. Bus hours run from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. with 15 minute intervals between stops. This stretches from 15 minutes to 30 minutes once 6 p.m. hits. Therefore if you have a late-night obligation on campus, instead of being able to drive yourself, you have to wait in the dark until a bus comes around to pick you up. While this is inconvenient, the primary concern is one of safety, especially for female students who have to walk in the dark to a bus stop, and then wait until they get picked up.
Maggie Johnston, a junior majoring in Wildlife Conservation weighed in on the topic:
“Personally, when I first heard about the new parking enforcements on campus, I was shocked. I thought of it as a selfish way for Virginia Tech to get more money and profit off of their students. However, as I have thought about it and been back in Blacksburg, I am understanding that their reasoning is probably to keep more people off campus in order to lessen the spread of COVID. Truthfully, the change does not really affect me and while it did make me mad when I first heard about it, I can see their reasoning behind it and am hopefully that I am right about that.”
While we need to be understanding toward our administration, I can’t help but be frustrated for those who are affected. As someone who doesn’t have a form of income, it’s difficult for me, and I am sure for others, to afford these passes, especially when we relied on the 5 p.m. cap to allow us to venture to campus for free. While the buses are a good option and are something that should be taken advantage of, sometimes they just don’t always work for our schedules.