The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday June 10th

BOT Nixes Night Permit Plan, Asks Administration to Revise

After more than an hour of discussion focusing on reservations about a night parking proposal, Trustee Richard Stevens moved to send the parking plan back to the chancellor and vice chancellors who had created the proposal March 19.

The motion passed 6-5, with two trustees absent.

"I felt the administration needed another crack," Stevens said. "I hope they can come back with (a new proposal) very quickly."

Nancy Suttenfield, vice chancellor for finance and administration, began the discussion Thursday by summarizing many of the concerns the trustees had raised at a work session Wednesday, when the board spent about an hour and a half discussing the issue of night parking.

She said that the Department of Public Safety is facing a budget crisis as the campus loses available parking to development and that the best solution to address both problems is the administration's night parking plan.

Under that proposal, night parking permits, which would allow the user to park in any campus lot after 5 p.m., would have been issued, although day permits also would have been valid at night.

Students also would have been able to park for free at night in the Bell Tower Lot or the Bowles Lot on South Campus.

An alternative plan, proposed by students on the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee, would have levied an across-the-board $5 student fee increase to garner the revenue that would have been raised by the permits.

Williams said he thought the complex new system proposed by the administration would restrict students' freedom and might put them at a safety risk.

"I've just got a sense that we are closing the campus," Williams said.

Young then read a letter written by Daniel Herman, a graduate student in biomedical engineering, and signed by 100 graduate students.

The letter raised issues of safety, affordability and the effects night parking might have on the quality of student life.

"Even if the only issue at hand was for the safety of people on campus, that issue alone should be enough to consider the chancellor's proposal an insufficient method for rectifying the current financial situation at hand," the letter stated.

Trustee Rusty Carter underscored the safety-related points raised in the letter. "The safety issue seems to be the critical issue," he said. "Safety now has a hot light on it -- if we do this, we cannot have a security failure."

Chancellor James Moeser then asked University Police Chief Derek Poarch to address campus safety and the possible effects of a night parking plan.

Poarch said that in general, UNC's campus is safe. He said that in 2001, there were only five total crimes against a person reported at the University.

"If you look at the amount of activities of 40,000 people a day and 1 million visitors a year, it seems that five crimes against persons ... does not say statistically that this is an unsafe campus," Poarch said.

But Student Body President-elect Jen Daum said she thinks the campus is far less safe than the numbers show and that a night parking plan would increase the risk to students.

"I know six women on campus who have been assaulted during my time here, and four of them have gone unreported," she said. "Currently, the safest thing for me is to park as close as possible to my final destination.

"I feel safe in the library ... and I feel safe in parking lots, but where I don't feel safe is in between."

The trustees then debated the funding mechanism for the plan, with Young and Stevens pushing for the student fee idea proposed by the students on TPAC.

But Moeser said the time for having a fee proposal approved by the UNC-system Board of Governors has passed, precluding the possibility of raising that revenue for next year.

Suttenfield also raised several issues of crowding in campus parking lots, saying the night parking permit plan would force people to take advantage of underutilized lots and reduce congestion in some busy North Campus lots.

Despite the many issues raised by the trustees, Carolyn Elfland, associate vice chancellor for campus services, said her immediate concerns about the BOT's decision were practical matters not addressed in the meeting.

She said DPS was in the middle of negotiating a transit contract that will now need to be put on hold and that parking registration for the fall 2002 semester might be delayed.

But she said the vice chancellors will try to draft a new proposal as quickly as possible. "The discussion reflects the same discussion that we had -- there are a lot of different views," Elfland said.

"We will just have to see and put our thinking caps back on."

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