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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Fight For Fair Parking Fees Continues

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Two protestors display their signs expressing disgust of UMB parking prices. 

Feb. 6, 2019—At the University of Massachusetts Boston, the SaveUMB Coalition held a strike against the new parking prices that were put in effect in Spring 2019. Prices were raised from $6 a day in the Bayside Lot to $9 a day, $504 a semester; while the new West Garage’s prices max out at $15 a day, $550 a semester. “The ‘Save UMB Coalition’ is a coalition of the staff unions, students, and faculty activists on campus.” Their goal is to “keep UMass Boston accessible and affordable.”

Though the strike started at 7 a.m., the rally started at noon and multiple protesters came onto the scene. Before even rounding the corner to where the rally was taking place, the sound of drums was pounding. A group of about 60 students, faculty, and staff marched outside from the West Garage to Chancellor Newman’s office with drums and signs. While they marched, a few of the strikers stayed and held down the fort. With the cold weather, those left behind stayed bundled up but never faltered with the marching, banging of drums, and switching up of signs. Their one request for the day was for anyone driving to UMass to boycott the West Garage. All wanted to educate the public on what was happening and why they were out there.

A member of the Save UMB Coalition, Sofya Aptekar, told Mass Media: “We’re here because it’s such a blow to the urban mission. We are a commuter campus and it’s so unaffordable to do this to the students.” Using the MBTA system isn’t feasible for the students who don’t live on a bus, train, or commuter rail line and still have to commute every day. Aptekar broke down some situations that a student might face. “A huge portion of our students are qualified for the Pell Grant, that means their family makes less than $30k a year. If you have a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class and you have to come and park three times a week, you’re going to pay something like over a thousand dollars, for just parking! Plus everything else you need to pay for as a student. One of our signs say, ‘My Student Shouldn’t Have to Get a Second Job Just to Come to School.’ So, we’re here for the students who can’t afford to park.”

Anneta Argyres, chair of the Save UMB Coalition and president of the Professional Staff Union, was able to talk on how the prices work and the Union Coalition Parking Bargaining proposal to UMass Boston administration. “With the numbers that administration has given us during bargaining, the amount of revenue that we made last year would be more than enough to continue to cover all of the operations, staffing, equipment, maintenance, and the creation of a sinking fund (which is like a special savings account if there [are] bigger repairs that are needed) for every, single parking area, including the new garage. So, the increase to the fees that they say they need have nothing to do with operating the garages, it’s all about paying the debt on this garage [West Garage].”

With the increase in parking fees, the amount of parking revenue coming into the school has dropped. The Union Coalition’s proposal has a sliding scale for paying for parking, those who park at Bayside will have a lower cost than anywhere else, it continues the multi-use pass, all students pay the lowest rates, as well as more. The fight continues for more affordable parking prices.