Students meander down the Hill and crawl back up on their way to class, meals and meetings. The steep incline is a reminder that the campus takes your breath away both because of its beauty and its slope. On a campus that is built into the side of a mountain, a car is the easiest way to get around.
Having a car on campus requires a permit, which can be purchased from Parking Services at the beginning of each semester. Parking Services issued 3,174 permits this semester. With that permit, a student may only park the car in the designated lot for the specific permit. If a student happens to park anywhere at the wrong time or in the wrong place, the student is given a fine that can be higher than the clock tower on the University Center. Parking anywhere other than the assigned spot requires paying a meter or getting a ticket.
The cost of parking passes and tickets are unnecessarily high. Lehigh University does not have its hands tied with these things — it has the power to lower the cost, reduce the frequency of tickets and reduce the financial burden of having a car on campus.
A permit for Lehigh is $400 per year — this is significantly more expensive than the $50 it costs per year to park in Bethlehem. Lehigh’s campus is private property, so Lehigh has the power to dictate pass prices. The difference between parking on campus or at an off-campus house a street over is $350.
“The revenue generated from permit sales and parking fines goes directly to fund parking lot and garage maintenance, and the enhancement of parking services,” Brett Johnson, the assistant manager of Parking Services, wrote in an email.
Although campus maintenance is necessary, it doesn’t need to be funded through expensive parking passes and tickets.
In addition to the price of the parking pass, tickets are issued regularly for anyone not parked in the correct lot at the correct time. Parking Services ensures parking laws are enforced at all hours of the day, even if a flashlight is necessary to read the license plates because the sun went down hours ago.
Johnson said the price of parking fines at Lehigh are similar to those at other institutions. These fines start at $25 and increase exponentially, depending on the offense. Some tickets are as much as $175. While these ticket prices may be similar to other institutions, they are far more expensive than the $10 tickets issued by Bethlehem. In Bethlehem, a driver is fined $10 for an expired meter or parking in an incorrect meter zone. On Lehigh’s campus, a driver is fined $25 for the same infraction.
The prices of Lehigh parking tickets appear to be arbitrary, even if they loosely are based on the prices at other schools. Students can appeal their ticket, and this sometimes leads to a reduction in its cost. An appeals committee decides whether these appeals are granted or rejected, and the reduction in price of tickets also seems arbitrarily decided.
According to an article in The Brown and White last semester, 23 percent of parking tickets were appealed and 60 percent of parking appeals were granted last year. This is a high percentage of appeals granted, and it suggests either the parking tickets should not have been issued in the first place, or the tickets were issued based on a justified reason and then the committee randomly decided to erase the tickets.
Students will bring their cars to campus next semester and pay the required $200 to park it because a car is a convenient, safe way to navigate campus.
The excessive fines and expensive parking passes add an unnecessary monetary layer to the cost of Lehigh, and the university should use its power to match the parking prices in Bethlehem.