To the editor:
UNC's weeknight parking plan represents a blow to the University's night staff, volunteers and status as a public space for the Chapel Hill community. Parking fees are an inherently regressive funding mechanism that ignore disparities in individual financial resources.
There is a big difference between asking a business school alumnus to pay a parking fee to attend a multi-night program in one of Kenan-Flagler's buildings and asking maintenance staff or circulation desk workers to pay fees every night just to do their jobs. Chapel Hill is a national model for free public transit in a small city, but that unfortunately does not extend to 24-hour service, so third-shift workers often rely on free night parking.
Additionally, as an alumnus of WXYC as well as the University, this plan would place an undue financial burden on the many off-campus DJs, both students and alumni, who maintain this gem of an experimental, freeform 24-hour radio station for no pay at all.
Finally, free weeknight parking at UNC helps to keep Chapel Hill's downtown and the University campus open, public spaces for the whole Chapel Hill community. In a country suffering from excessive privatization of public space and growing wealth inequality, Chapel Hill's extensive green and public spaces are part of what makes the town special. Putting in place regressive parking fees that disproportionately affect low-income people would undermine this key aspect of what makes Chapel Hill a true oasis.