Following student criticism, 24/7 parking fees will no longer be implemented at Central Grounds Parking Garage

The announcement was made at Tuesday’s Student Council meeting

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During the legislative session, fourth-year College student Lukas Pietrzak, who co-sponsored the Central Grounds Parking Garage bill, encouraged the Representative Body to pass a resolution opposing the now-eliminated 24/7 parking fees at the garage. 

Geremia Di Maro | Cavalier Daily

Brendan Nigro, a fourth-year College student and the student member to the University’s Board of Visitors, announced at a general body meeting of Student Council Tuesday that U.Va. will no longer be implementing 24/7 parking fees at the Central Grounds Parking Garage next month. In recent weeks, the announcement of the 24/7 fee at the garage has sparked criticism among students regarding safety concerns for those who may not be able to afford the new fees late at night and would choose to walk instead of drive home. 

Nigro said during the period for representative reports that he had recently spoken with an official from the University’s Parking and Transportation services who stated that the 24-hour fees would not be implemented at the garage as originally planned next month in light of student feedback opposing the changes. 

In an email to The Cavalier Daily, University Spokesperson Anthony de Bruyn confirmed that the new rates at the Central Grounds Parking Garage will be $2 an hour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and $1 an hour between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Parking in the garage will be free of charge at all other times, and the changes will take effect Jan. 6, 2019, according to de Bruyn. 

Previously, the new rates and hours would have closed a long-time loophole where students leaving the garage at late hours could avoid paying for parking. However, new parking meters are still set to take effect in the Central Grounds Garage starting in January 2019. 

During its legislative session Tuesday, Student Council approved a resolution calling on the University to refrain from implementing a 24-hour parking fee at the Central Grounds Parking Garage, which was drafted before Nigro announced the changes to the parking policy. 

The resolution states that Student Council “will lobby administration to remove parking fees after a reasonable time in the evening for the Central Grounds Parking Garage in accordance with the policies across other locations where the parking meters are currently in use.”

During the legislative session, fourth-year College student Lukas Pietrzak, who co-sponsored the Central Grounds Parking Garage bill, encouraged the Representative Body to pass the resolution. 

“It could make a major difference for any student walking home from the library after dark, seeing that the sun sets at five o’clock now,” Pietrzak said. 

The Representative Body also voted Tuesday to pass a resolution in support of the Living Wage Campaign at U.Va., which stated that Student Council will lobby the University to pay a living wage to all of its employees. The campaign has existed at the University since 1998 and stands as the longest-running unsuccessful wage campaign at a collegiate institution, according to Ariana Delaurentis, a representative of the group. Successful living wage campaigns include those at Harvard University and Georgetown University — which achieved their goals in 2016 and 2005, respectively.

Currently, the University pays workers a minimum wage of $12.38, while Aramark, the provider for University dining services, pays employees $10.65. Meanwhile, according to a MIT’s living wage calculator — which estimates the living wage needed to support individuals and families based on the cost of basic necessities — a living wage in the City stands at $12.02 for a single adult or $16.95 for a family of four in which both parents work. 

However, University President Jim Ryan has established a community working group with the aim of improving the relationship between the University and the local community. While the group is not specifically instructed to examine living wage, members of the group and Ryan have expressed interest in including the issue in a recommendation report, expected to be released in February.  

Amr Metwally, second-year College student and a co-sponsor of the resolution, said the legislation was a way to demonstrate student support for a living wage at U.Va. 

“The reason we’re doing this specific resolution again is that I met with the president of Living Wage and she just wanted to make sure that we do everything that we can do to support them and all their different efforts,” Metwally said. “And this just shows support from the student body.”

Student Council also passed on a bill to approve the creation of 19 new Contracted Independent Organizations.

All of the legislation passed with a vote of 23 in favor, two abstentions and none opposed. 

Before the legislative session, the meeting began with an approximately 10-minute presentation on the University’s Strategic Plan from Dean of Students Allen Groves, who solicited student suggestions from representatives for how to improve the University’s strategic plan going forward. According to the Strategic Planning website, the University's current strategic plan, called “the Cornerstone Plan,” was approved in Fall 2013 and took effect starting in the 2014–2015 academic year.

“This is a big deal, and I don’t want to fail to have the student voice heard,” Groves said. “I want to hear from Student Council. I want to hear from the representatives.” 

Correction: This article previously misidentified Lukas Pietrzak as a third-year College student. He is a fourth-year College student. 

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