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Clark employees pass on parking permits

As a student, finding parking on campus can be frustrating and tiresome. For Clark College student Tiffany Nash, this means circling the Yellow 1 parking lot at least four times just hoping to find an available space. 

Nash arrives to Clark’s main campus every Tuesday and Thursday for her morning biology class. When she reaches lap four around the parking lot, sometimes she’s tempted to just park in the empty staff spaces. 

“It sucks ass,” Nash said. 

In 2018, Clark College estimated 500 employees – nearly half of all paid staff – didn’t pay for parking last year as college policy requires. Some employees who don’t pay for permits have legitimate reasons. If they walk or bike, they don’t have to pay. However, whether students drive, bus or walk to school, they don’t have the luxury of avoiding parking fees. Students’ parking fees are included with their tuition.

Clark students pay $1.25 per credit up to 10 credits. This parking fee is included in every student’s tuition. 

Faculty and staff pricing for parking permits is more complicated. For an annual permit (Fall through Spring term) the initial cost is approximately $60 for one car. If someone were to add another car onto their pricing they would have to pay an additional $5.63 with their annual fee. A quarterly pass is about $20.

Faculty and staff neglecting to pay their parking permit fees cannot park in designated F/S parking. That leaves them parking on the street, or parking in spots designated for students and visitors, resulting in fewer spots for students. This can cause difficulty for students trying to find parking to make it to class on time.

According to Clark’s faculty and staff policy handbook, all college faculty, staff and administrators who use the parking spaces on campus even the ones not marked F/S must purchase a parking permit. The only exception for Clark employees to not pay for a permit are those who do not drive or those who do drive but do not park on campus. 

If this is stated in the policy, then why are there Clark employees not purchasing parking permits?

The Indy requested a list of employees who hadn’t paid for parking and obtained that list through a public records request. After receiving the five-page report with each page having three columns of names, the Indy cross referenced the list with another list with the names of every faculty and staff in order to narrow down who on the list works full-time. Some names appear on the list by mistake, our reporting shows. 

The vast majority of the names that appear on the original list appear to belong to adjunct faculty members. Clark’s adjunct faculty don’t earn as much compared to full-time faculty members. Currently, the faculty union that represents full-time teachers and adjuncts is contemplating striking over pay. 

History instructor Cynthia Landrum talked about how hard it was to pay for multiple campus permits on an adjunct’s salary for 20 years. 

Each employee the Indy contacted had their own reason for not getting a permit. One mathematics professor said it was hard to find F/S spots so why purchase a permit?  

Biology professor Steven Clark said he has never paid for a parking permit. While most days he rides his bike and carpools, Clark has stated that he “rarely drives to campus, maybe once a month.” 

“I think (I could be wrong) that the parking spots not marked F/S are not ‘student’ parking, but are simply OPEN spots for anyone including students, campus visitors, staff or faculty,” wrote Clark in an email response to the Indy.

The frustration the employees feel with the process of getting a parking permit is evident as well. Tammy Boyer, a reference and instruction librarian, said she had a hard time trying to exchange the wrong permit issued to her at the beginning of this calendar year.

“I am not looking forward to attempting the process again,” said Boyer. “The process of purchasing a permit must be simplified, correct changes applied and spaces made available.” 

Other staff members said the college’s policy is too confusing.

Yuliya Demyanyuk, a financial aid office assistant, works part-time three days a week. “As far as I know there is faculty/staff parking only for full-time employees who pay for parking,” said Demyanyuk. She has stated that now that she is aware, she will be purchasing a parking permit. 

Pharmacy Technician instructor Heidi Fay teaches full-time at WSU-V. Fay said she only visits Clark’s main campus for meetings and often uses the pay meters. “I have been told that my parking permit from WSU-V also covers me for the main campus parking fees,” said Fay. 

Director of Safety and Security Mike See acknowledged that the list released to the Indy was out of date. See said the parking policy will go under review; he just doesn’t know when. 

Out of the 52 emails the Indy sent out to those employees who were on the list, only 19 of those employees responded. The reasons varied with every response, but only one offered no excuses.

Mathematics instructor Isaac Erskine openly admitted to choosing to not pay for his parking permit in the past. According to Erskine, he purchased a faculty parking pass at the beginning of fall term. 

“I wish I had an excuse to offer, but I didn’t pay for parking because of plain moral turpitude,” said Erskine. “The mental gymnastics I used to justify this to myself were approximately: ‘I am often on campus for only a few hours and during nicer weather I often take the bus or bike.’ Of course that is specious reasoning, since, as you point out, students pay for parking regardless. When driving, I would sometimes park in student spaces, or if the lots seemed crowded would find spaces around the park.”

Correction: This article has been revised to fix a few minor errors on a statement and the quote from Steven Clark. 

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