Butler parking: Not just a student issue

Even employees must splurge on parking passes. Collegian file photo.

QUINTIN MEYERS | OPINION COLUMNIST | qmeyers@butler.edu

Parking passes are one of the university’s heftiest cash cows. The practice has become customary for most college campuses, as many students are able to shell out the money needed to buy one. If not, it is not the end of the world. Dawg Ride, biking, walking and begging friends are just a few ways to get around without a vehicle. Butler employees, however, are not always afforded these luxuries.

You don’t have to look far to find laundry lists of complaints regarding heavy-handed officers and undeserved tickets. Yet this framing only addresses student issues, tuning out faculty voices in the process. For many Butler Aramark staff, ponying up money for a parking pass causes much more material stress in their lives.

During the 2018-2019 school year, all workers have to fork over $132 for a year-long pass, or pay $74 per semester. This acts as a massive paywall for low-income employees. Just for reference, people who earn minimum wage are slated for a mere $267.80 each 40 hour work week. The lofty price tag means that many Aramark workers are forced to find alternative means of transportation.

Donna Kerrigan is an employee for Butler Aramark and takes issue with the current parking system.

Parking passes “limit her time with her two children… by being too expensive to purchase.” Instead of driving her car to work, Kerrigan opts for public transit due to cost restraints. While it may be more affordable, it is hugely inconvenient, “adding at least an hour” to her daily commute.

This is a common theme amongst most Butler Aramark workers. Even if they own a vehicle, it’s more economical to be dropped off, carpool, bike or walk.  

Options are even more limited if you don’t live near campus. Although bussing is always available, it drains massive amounts of time. And while carpooling is an option, it requires someone to buy a pass in the first place. Many employees are given a cursed fate: either cough up a handsome sum, or give up more time each day to go to work.

Another Aramark worker, who preferred to remain anonymous, described his frustration with the university parking policy too.

“I have spent so much time riding the bus in the last three years and I have worked tirelessly,” he said. “Our union contracts should help us come to work on our own terms. I would pay the money if I had it…but I do not.”

Overwhelmingly, the current system diminishes employees’ autonomy and impacts their livelihood in the process. A possible fifteen minute ride frequently becomes an hour-long trek for many Aramark employees.

“It is a huge chunk of my day gone,” Kerrigan said.  

Ann Savage, professor of communication and parking committee member, has her fair share of issues with the current system as well.

“It is problematic that we all pay the same price,” Savage said, “given that faculty wages are hugely variant.”  

It is true: professors and adjuncts pay the same price as every other worker on campus. Parking passes operate as another hidden cost of the job, further stymieing employee opportunity and pay. The current rate does not account for salary in any capacity, something which Savage pushes back against too.

“[W]e should have a sliding scale for employees, meaning that not everyone pays the same rate and it is income-dependent,” she said.

Whether it be a sliding scale or reduced rate, implementing a change for Butler faculty passes would vastly improve the landscape of the university.  Not only will it alleviate many workers’ schedules and anxieties, but it will additionally reap benefits in the workplace. With studies underscoring the correlation between happy workers and quality work, students can enjoy the merit of this measure too.

At an institution that espouses a “Community of C.A.R.E.,” extending the same graces to our hardworking faculty is the least we can do.  So many Aramark employees manage to brighten the campus atmosphere every day. From Denise’s endless effervescence at C-Club, to Bruce’s personalized ResCo greetings, there are countless times where faculty have improved our Butler experience. Making this change is just one thing we could do to return the favor.

 

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