Like clockwork, Hailey Parker leaves her shift at Port City Java around 4:40 p.m., Monday through Friday, and moves her car from Rams Head Parking Deck to Stadium Drive to avoid paying extra for parking.
Parker said it’s a nightly routine for employees at Port City Java during the week, but starting Aug. 15, weeknight parking for campus employees like Parker could cost a minimum of $234 a year – and Parker said she might consider finding another job because of it.
“I know I’m not going to pay $200-something a year,” Parker said. “That could go to something else. That could go to my car insurance or some gas money because I live in Mebane.”
Even if it might cost less than parking in Rams Head Deck, Parker said she does not like the idea of paying to park when you are working.
“I don’t think we should have to pay for parking at all, really, because we work here,” she said. “But if we do pay for parking, I don't think we should pay that much, not even for a year.”
On April 15, the University sent an email announcing a weeknight parking fee that would require students and University employees to pay a fee for what is usually free parking on campus after 5 p.m.
The fee would charge employees who work between 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. on weeknights for parking on a sliding scale based on how much money they make. Employees making less than $32,000 a year would pay $234 a year, while employees making more than $100,000 a year would pay $402 a year.
For Chantel Benjamin, who drives her mother’s car to her shift at Wendy’s from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. on weeknights and weekends, $234 is too much for her to afford on her $12-per-hour salary.
“If I’m not getting dropped off, I’m normally parking, which is good for free because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to take this job,” Benjamin said. “I don't get off until after 1 in the morning, and I live in Durham, so the bus runs here for students, but it doesn’t run that late in Durham. So I would be stranded every night.”
If the parking fee does take place as scheduled in August, Benjamin said she would also have to find a new job because her transportation isn’t always reliable.
“I would have to, because for one, sometimes I have to get dropped off or something if I don’t have transportation to get back and forth, which right now I don’t,” she said.
Although this will directly affect night shift employees at on-campus restaurants, many said they did not know about the upcoming weeknight parking fee.
Unlike many of his co-workers at Wendy’s, senior psychology major Steven Vogel said he heard of the parking fee through the email the University sent.
Vogel said the fee will not affect him as much because he sometimes walks to Wendy’s from his off-campus apartment, but he said he believes the communication between the University and his co-workers could be better.
“I don’t think anybody else was informed unless they were a student,” Vogel said. “This is obviously going to be something that affects people who work here, so I think the communication should’ve been better.”
None of the staff in this article said they were aware of the new fees prior to being interviewed.
Olivia James, communications manager for Campus Enterprises, said the University has tried to spread the word about the weeknight parking fee in several ways.
“We have met with Faculty Council and Employee Forum, as well as individually with departments on campus over the past year,” James said. “We have also shared the news through the University Gazette (the faculty and staff newspaper), the Raleigh News & Observer and local radio station WCHL.”
As August approaches, James said affected employees will receive more information about how to buy a weeknight parking pass but gave no specific date on when registration will open.
“While we are using every medium known to us to send this message to all members of the campus community, there will still be people who have questions or are misinformed,” James said. “That is why we are encouraging education over ticketing for the first several months of implementation.”
Despite the University’s efforts to alert students and employees about the upcoming weeknight parking fee, Parker said he feels like employees are always left out of the loop.
“I feel like we find out when stuff happens last minute, and it’s just like, ‘Oh you have to pay parking, that’s it,’” she said. “No — because I’m going to say no — I know I’m going to say no for sure because I don't want to pay for parking.”
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