The University Record, February 13, 1995
For over a century and a half, the University of Michigan has enjoyed an enviable reputation as a leader in public higher education. With the exception of the University of California, Ann Arbor was the pre-eminent example of state-funded education in America.
However, with state tax dollars now providing an ever-shrinking fraction of the U-M operating costs, there is indeed cause for serious concern. It is certainly understandable that as its costs increase while state support declines, the fees long associated with many activities would experience corresponding increases, and parking permit fees are no exception.
But, unlike other functions and services (concerts, admission to athletic events, etc.) which involve a fee, participation in which is largely voluntary in nature, parking fees constitute a distinctly involuntary necessity for many staff members because of the inadequacy of public transportation. The U-M flat-fee policy sets a grossly unfair burden on those least able to pay and should be replaced by a flat percentage-of-salary policy. A rate below 1 percent should more than suffice to generate the same parking revenue.
How can a university of Michigan's stature demand the same $362+ of one of its $15K clerks that it nominally requires of its $100K+ professionals? And this, while not even guaranteeing that the permit holder will actually find a parking spot! Even more unjust is the inclusion of a parking "perk" for some fortunate few in the upper reaches of the bureaucratic maze.
As a 32-year veteran staff member who does not need a parking permit, my views are not motivated by an anticipated personal gain, but a desire for fairness. To continue this regressive parking fee policy would be morally disgraceful, as well as a dishonor to the
U-M legacy of innovative educational leadership.