Parking fee changes cause mass anger

Students are angered over the increase of parking fees, especially for commuters


Chase Bagnall Koger, Contributing Writer

As the start of the Fall 2021 semester brings updated COVID-19 protocols, rules and regulations regarding on campus parking have shifted, too.

Students have noticed a recent hike in the price of parking, which brought the semester-long cost to $330 for underclassmen and $550 for upperclassmen. This is in contrast to the temporarily reduced price of $79 in the Spring 2021 semester.

“I think it’s ridiculous to charge students $550 to be able to park on campus during the day,” said Tori O’Brien, a sophomore living in Deacon Place. “If Wake Forest is going to encourage a three-year on-campus housing commitment, and many of the campus-owned living arrangements are located a considerable distance from students’ classes, then they should be willing to accommodate for more affordable parking.”

Additionally, limited parking space availability caused passes to sell out within days of being made available. As a result, many students were left without permanent passes and had to settle on the waitlist for commuter passes.

Since Aug. 8, there has only been one parking pass distributed to a student on the waiting list, leaving dozens of others in line.

“I tried to buy a parking pass about a day or two after they were made available this summer, and they had already sold out,” senior Mitch Boyer said. “Now I have to ride a bike to class because I can’t use my car, which means crossing University [Parkway by foot], or taking a 15-minute detour.”

The Office of Parking and Transportation reports that the cost was lower during the last semester because of COVID-19’s effects on the number of students willing to commute to campus for in-person classes. With in-person classes resuming, there is more demand.

“We were able to make the temporary offer of $79 for commuter permits, as parking demands were low due to many faculty, staff and students working/studying remotely and a lower number of students living on campus,” Director of Campus Planning and Services Alex Crist said.

Wake Forest University’s COVID-19 response has changed since the previous semester; the University’s COVID-19 policy has relaxed slightly to allow students more access to various residence halls and the gym has reopened by appointment. However, regulations such as Wake Forest’s mask visitation policies are subject to alteration based on the development of the virus. It is unclear if full or partial refunds would be issued in the event that classes became virtual or blended between in-person and virtual.

“It feels pretty ridiculous that we pay almost $80,000 a year to go to school here and then you have to cough up even more cash to be able to park on campus,” Boyer said.

“It’s also ridiculous that [commuting] seniors who wanted parking passes are having to pay $350 to park in the same lot as all the freshmen and sophomores,” said Alec Waring, a senior. Waring currently sits at No. 150 on the waitlist.

According to the Office of Parking and Transportation, some students may qualify for a fee waiver for the parking pass, but the criteria for such is determined on a case-by-case basis. Students must contact the Office of Financial Aid to assess eligibility.

During the Spring 2022 semester, the price of parking passes is expected to remain the same. The location of on-campus parking will also not change — most of the student parking will stay clustered around North Campus near Polo Road.

The Office of Transportation and Parking reports that the cost of parking passes is evaluated on a yearly basis, so it has not yet been determined if there will be any fee changes in the upcoming school year.