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Parking fee process riles GRU students

Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 9:17 PM
Last updated Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 1:21 AM
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To senior Alexis Wren, it was a “deceitful” ploy by Georgia Regents University to charge her another $35 fee to park on the Summerville campus. University officials admit it took a long time to work out the fee structure but say students had ample warning about the fee.

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GRU student Alexis Wren learned about the $35 parking fee after a hold was placed on her student account, and she could not register for classes.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
GRU student Alexis Wren learned about the $35 parking fee after a hold was placed on her student account, and she could not register for classes.

Wren got an e-mail Oct. 8 telling her that if she wanted a decal to park on the former Augusta State University campus she needed to apply online. She went to the page, which included instructions for faculty and staff as well, followed the student instructions and thought she was done. At the very bottom of the page, however, was a listing of fees she didn’t see, although staff and faculty fees are near the top.

She picked up her decal and again no one mentioned the fee. Wren didn’t find out about it until she got an e-mail late last month telling her that a hold had been placed on her student account, meaning she couldn’t register again for classes until she paid the $35.

“It was just a very misleading process because the first e-mail they sent didn’t mention the fee. And then they sent a second e-mail and it didn’t say anything about it,” she said. “They had signs all around campus and none of them said it. All of the instructions are right there at the top of the page. There would be no reason for you to keep scrolling.”

Even though it is just $35, that can be significant, particularly for students who are getting scholarships or Pell grants that cover fees but don’t include money for contingencies like this, Wren said.

“They made a mistake,” she said. “I just don’t feel like we should be held accountable for that.”

The problem arose during consolidation, because those charged with figuring out parking were faced with two very different systems, said Karl Munschy, the director of auxiliary services at GRU, who was helping to figure out the financial structure for parking. The University System of Georgia considers parking an auxiliary service that must pay for itself, so beginning last October, Munschy and others on the work team had to figure out how to cover the $2.6 million annual cost of parking and transportation.

“The only way to fund that cost is through a fee,” Munschy said. The problem was trying to bring those old rates into a new and fair alignment, he said.

“Rates ranged from as low as 84 cents per month for somebody up to $60 per month,” Munschy said. “The goals were to try and bring those rates into alignment across the campus because we’re one university now. And do it at the lowest cost possible.”

The administration also wanted students to have the lowest possible rate, he said. Just trying to bring former ASU faculty staff, some of whom were paying the 84 cents a month for parking, up to a more aligned $10 a month meant hitting them with a 1,100 percent increase, Munschy said.

“That was a pretty significant increase,” he said. “Most of the complaints I’ve heard is from that group.”

Further complicating things were discussions about moving programs between the different campuses, Munschy said.

“Every time a department moved or something else changed during consolidation, it really changed the parking plan, too,” he said. “All of those things were being discussed throughout that year.”

There might have been as many as six different financing and parking plans sent up through the administration before a decision was finally made in July and materials were ordered, Munschy said.

“It is later than we had hoped it would be,” he said.

But notices about the parking fee were included in June in the weekly GReport e-mailed to students and again when registration opened in October. But students who aren’t in school in the summer don’t pay attention to those reports, said Wren.

Munschy disagrees.

“I think that they actually did a pretty good job communicating it out,” he said.

Faced with having to register to continue working toward her master’s degree in teaching and a bachelor’s in chemistry, Wren decided to give the pass back and take her chances parking off-campus.

“I feel that the whole thing was very deceitful and I don’t want to give them my money this semester,” she said. “Hopefully, it will go smoother next semester.”

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Riverman1 11/04/13 - 05:26 am

The whole matter of the parking at the Summerville and Frog Hollow campuses seems confusing to me. If she had bought the parking sticker she could have parked at either campus?

augusta1735 11/04/13 - 10:06 am
Not surprised

I am not at all surprised, that school has the WORST communication problems I have ever seen. As a grad student there, I never knew what was going on, and neither did the faculty or administration.

Fiat_Lux 11/04/13 - 10:47 am
Who'da thunk it!

GRU having problems with transition communications and passively letting people just stay in the dark about essential information.

Say it ain't so!

Still, $35 a semester is the lowest price anyone pays for parking, and they can park in any non-reserved space they can find on either campus--that doesn't belong to MCGHI. I wish I had that deal.

raul 11/04/13 - 10:50 am
Does ASU have a parking

Does ASU have a parking garage? If not, it would seem worth considering and allow open air parking to be used for expansion.

Tom Corwin
Tom Corwin 11/04/13 - 11:58 am

Creating parking decks and using existing surface lots for new buildings on the Summerville campus is one option that will be studied as part of the master plan over the next year.

Mr. Thackeray
Mr. Thackeray 11/04/13 - 12:42 pm
Master Plan?

It was my understanding that you folks are going to consolidate academics "downtown" and leave the ASU campus for I wrong?

Marinerman1 11/04/13 - 12:47 pm
Get With The Program GRU

Still despise the stupid "merged" name. That having been said, it does not surprise me that GRU has a communication problem. But seriously, a parking charge should NEVER cause a student to be unable to register for the next semester. Fix the stupid webpage, and get with the program.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 11/04/13 - 01:35 pm

The biggest transportation expense Grooo has is the bus system. They should abandon that; just shut it down completely. Then, parking fees can drop dramatically.

AjavaCafe 11/04/13 - 02:09 pm
No sympathy

Lets see, students pay $35.00 a semester, former ASU faculty and staff are paying $10.00 a month, and hospital employees pay absolutely nothing!!! Health sciences employees are paying $25.00 a month ($60.00 for reserved parking)!!! I am not feeling sympathy for any of them.

corgimom 11/04/13 - 05:52 pm
I believe that someone that

I believe that someone that is old enough and intelligent enough to attend college should know enough to scroll down and read the entire page, and not blame GRU for their shortcomings and errors. That student is in for a tough time in her career if she tries to blame her failures on others, she should learn a valuable lesson from this.

thauch12 11/04/13 - 06:11 pm

Quit your boo-hooing. It's $35, a heckuva lot cheaper than what some others at the same university pay to park. If you can't afford that, don't drive, it's as simple as that.

Tom Corwin
Tom Corwin 11/04/13 - 06:42 pm
Mr. Thackery

I believe GRU is going to be studying all options. Please see this previous story:

gargoyle 11/04/13 - 07:39 pm
Someone has to pay for the

Someone has to pay for the GRU parking lot cops Tasers and past and future law suits from their use.

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