On Saturday, June 24, a Martlet staff member drove to UVic to attend the Autism’s Own Conference being held in the SUB. Not knowing how long the conference would last, they paid for a full day of parking. As they were leaving the parking lot a few hours later, another student pulled in beside them. He didn’t have a parking pass hanging from his mirror, so our kind and loving Martlet staffer rolled down their window and offered him their ticket.
“But I don’t have any change I can give you,” he replied anxiously, patting down his pockets.
The benevolent Martleteer told him not to worry about it — they had already gotten their money’s worth and he was welcome to it. The two both rolled up their respective windows feeling great: one of them was able to park for free and the other had the warm fuzzy feeling of doing something nice for someone else.
Little did either of them know that would be their last opportunity to share a parking ticket with another student.
As per our news story on page three, drivers using UVic parking lots will now be forced to input their licence plate numbers when buying hourly or full-day parking passes. The change marks the beginning of a UVic plan for digitizing all parking on campus. Instead of checking vehicles for valid parking permits, Campus Security will now have vehicles equipped with licence plate recognition technology that will use cameras to streamline their ticketing process.
UVic says the change is about the environment (less paper), saving time (not having to walk back and forth from your vehicle to the ticket dispenser), and about students potentially having mobile payment options in the future.
But at the end of the day, UVic’s justification for changing their parking system is really just corporate capitalism disguised as phony sustainability. It’s a cash grab masquerading as responsible business practice. If the university really cared about saving the planet, they’d stop investing in fossil fuel companies, for example.
UVic has also demonstrated on multiple occasions that they’re willing to inconvenience students based on their bottom line and administrative interests; if they really cared about students’ time, they wouldn’t have waited until 3 p.m. to close the university in the wake of this past January’s snowpocalypse that left thousands of students stranded for hours.
The university also insists the parking change allows UVic to be that much more mobile friendly. However, if they really wanted to make UVic mobile-compatible, we’d actually be able to use UVic’s MyPage on our cellphones (we just want to scroll to the side, UVic! Is that too much to ask?!).
We already put up with a lot when it comes to parking at UVic. A lack of spaces, an absurd cost (Camosun College’s full-day parking maxes out at $6.50 — at UVic it can be as high as $15), and a ruthless rigidity when it comes to enforcing parking rules (for example, one unfortunate Martleteer had to pay an additional $1.50 after making the mistake of buying a ticket at 5:58 p.m., two minutes before rates change for the night).
The whole thing just feels cruel. How many of us have felt the rush of seeing a valid parking ticket stuck back in the machine, just waiting to be reused? How lovely does that little act of kindness feel on a regular day? How about when you’re running late for a meeting with a prof, or when you’re stressed about an exam?
We all have these stories, and it’s one of the reasons why receiving or giving a free full day pass is such a powerful experience.
And with everything happening in the world right now, a little kindness goes a long way.