Ramp leading to upper levels in the Girard Park Circle Parking Tower.

NOTICE: The views expressed in The Vermilion's opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect those of The Vermilion staff or of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is still charging some students over $300 a semester to park on campus in the midst of COVID-19.

Commuter students have a few options for parking: The free option at Cajun Field or the paid option at the Girard Park Circle Parking Tower.

There are two options for parking at the parking tower. One is a Park-and-Pay system where you pay $5 for the first two hours and then $1 for every hour after that, but only on the first two floors. The second choice is to pay $325 to be able to park on the third through the sixth floor for as long as you want. If you are caught in this area without a parking pass it is a $50 parking ticket. It’s just absurd.

The permit for the parking tower should be free this semester, or at the very least discounted. The buses are holding about half the capacity than they used to because of social distancing. Students have to get to Cajun Field earlier to try and get on the bus to make it to their class.

The university should want to make life easier for their students this semester and make them feel more comfortable at school during these odd times. Make the first two floors of the tower free to park at and then move the Park-and-Pay system up to the third through sixth floors.

The parking pass is $325 a semester. That is $650 a year on top of tuition, which is already a few thousand dollars, not to mention the price of textbooks. As I mentioned in a previous story, some students have not been able to work because of COVID-19.

Students who can’t afford to park in the parking tower now have to get to the bus on time to get a seat that is in short supply. Some students may not be comfortable taking the bus too, so changing the pricing of the parking tower would benefit them.

I realize that if the university were to change the pricing it could have more traffic on East St. Mary Boulevard, or the tower could become overpopulated and that could risk exposure. However, it would give students more options other than riding the bus and that is feasible for the students so they can be more comfortable going to school.

Students who live on campus must pay $40 for their parking pass to park at whichever dorm they are staying in. These students have to pay for the dorm, tuition, a parking pass and for some students, a meal plan as well. Before the student even gets to class and gets hit with another expense to get their supplies for their classes for the semester. It all seems as though the university wants students’ money as opposed to making life easier for their students during these truly unpredictable times.

The university shouldn’t make their students worry about catching the bus on time or worry about getting a parking ticket for wanting to park closer to their class. It is truly ridiculous that it seems as though the university is only after students' money instead of making sure they are comfortable and happy on their campus.

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