UWM Should End the Parking Subsidy
Having an educated populace is good for society, it increases the earning of all workers, it helps to generate wealth and fuels innovation. Subsidized parking doesn’t.
UWM recently announced that the school will no longer be utilizing the parking lot on Milwaukee’s lakefront for remote student parking, in part because the university had acquired the former Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital parking garage adjacent to campus.
As part of this change the university had planned to charge students $4 per day to park at the garage, and end the student subsidy of parking. Oddly, the UWM Student Association fought to continue the subsidization of parking for some students, at the cost of non-driving students. These efforts apparently moved the university’s position, as Steve Schultze is reporting that UWM has “cut a tentative deal to charge all students $15 per semester to subsidize parking in the former Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital ramp.” This continued automobile subsidy isn’t a big one, but it is one example of how our institutions and policies, encourage people to drive, by hiding the true cost.
As an urban university, UWM should be encouraging students to live on or near campus and become part of the community. By doing this UWM would be helping to fulfill its mission as an urban university while helping the neighborhood. It would actually reduce parking needs and congestion, as students could walk, bike, or take transit to get to class instead of circling the neighborhood or garage in hopes of finding a spot. In the long run, encouraging more students to make the East side of Milwaukee their home would help to keep demand strong for apartment development, help to fill rental vacancies on the East Side, and draw further retail development to the area.
For too long UWM has muddled in their commitment to being an urban university, it’s time for that to change.