Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
A yes vote this week by the Swarthmore College Parking and Transportation Master Plan Advisory Committee could recommend a plan to levy a $30 parking fee, suggested by a planning firm retained last spring. The fee, which would have to be paid by most drivers to park in campus parking lots, is part of a larger Parking and Transportation Master Plan, a draft of which was presented last Wednesday in the Scheuer Room.
The proposed fee has frustrated members of the Student Labor Action Project, SLAP, which advocates for workers’ rights on campus. Ben Wolcott ’14, a senior in SLAP, said he has spoken to staff members who were none too pleased either.
However, the fee’s week is this week, and if the college sticks to one proposed timeline, it could be levied as soon as this spring, gates and all.
So members of SLAP wrote a last-minute letter to Vice President Stu Hain, who heads the Facilities and Services Department and sits on the Parking and Transportation Committee. They marched down to his office on Tuesday afternoon, where they read the letter to a staffer, and left a copy for Hain.
Dear Vice President Hain,
We are here today in solidarity with staff and faculty who have not had enough time to discuss and give feedback about the new Parking and Transportation Master Plan. Needless to say, many people that we have talked to feel deeply frustrated. We attempted to bring up our concerns with the student representative on the committee, Jennifer Walsh, but were shocked to realize that she is not even on campus this semester. We have two primary concerns:
First, nickel and diming staff and faculty is unfitting for a progressive community. No one should have to pay their employer to work. While $30 may seem insignificant to some, it will affect the staff who are already struggling to get by in an economy that is not working for them. Others see the price increase and further changes as an attack on our community’s social fabric. Also, will you guarantee that the permit price will not increase? Given its seemingly arbitrary amount, many worry that this $30 price tag is only the start of substantial increases further down the line.
Second, the consensus-building process for this proposal did not meaningfully engage the community. Only allowing staff, faculty and students one week to give feedback is inappropriate. Some have not even had a week. For example, no one has told Sharples staff let alone asked for their input.
Especially considering the uncertainty after SEPTA’s recent announcement that they may stop running the Media/Elwyn line, tomorrow seems like the wrong time to make long-term planning decisions about parking and transportation.
We know that your working group of mostly powerful senior staff has received significant feedback, and we encourage you to publish it in order to facilitate transparency. Our community has not reached consensus.
The Swarthmore Labor Action Project