The average modern student might appear politically apathetic, but if there’s one thing that riles up the campus it must be Curtin’s parking problems.
Parking is set to impact the upcoming guild elections, with the price of parking, the CelloPark app and enforcement of fines all prominent issues.
A contentious part of Curtin’s parking setup is the required use of the ‘CellOPark’ mobile app to pay for parking.
Student Guild’s Health Sciences Faculty Representative Dylan Heywood has taken aim at the questionable app.
“CelloPark is just an annoying part that doesn’t always work or you forget about. It’s kind of the symbol of what everyone hates about parking,” he said.
“If Curtin really cared about students, or wasn’t into revenue raising through parking fines, they’d implement a feature where you’re automatically logged in to CelloPark as soon as you drive on to campus.
“Like come on, its 2017 – this is clearly a tactic to make things harder for students to park.”
Parking fee increases planned for 2018 are set to apply a vice grip on the increasingly tight budgets of students.
A 2013 study by Universities Australia found that two thirds of University students live below the poverty line.
Illuminate and Left Action have both stated that they oppose any parking fee increases.
Left action National Union of Students candidate Clare Francis says that the party favours free parking for students.
“Curtin has the most expensive parking for students in the state. It’s over four times as much for a student who attends university four times a week comparative to ECU, and the fees are constantly being increased,” Francis said.
“This is obviously an issue that the Guild needs to take seriously.
“We support free parking for students. We don’t think they should be charged for coming in to study.”
Heywood said that the fees are placing pressure on students already paying money to study.
“Anything we can do to prevent extra financial and emotional stress on students is something we support,” he said.
“Parking is something that unites Curtin students. We all pay thousands of dollars of year to study, but they’ll happily hit us up for an extra $30 a week (full time every day) for parking.”
Students have united against Curtin’s parking practices on social media through the Revenue Raisers Resistance Facebook group.
The group started by Heywood and Guild President Liam O’Neill encourages people to post the location of parking officers, to remind people about activating their payment.
“I think it unites students because it’s something we all deal with every day and it grinds on you,” Heywood said.
“I can remember a couple of years ago how so many people got behind the Illuminate Guild campaign to stop parking fees during exam weeks.
“Stuff like federal education cuts will hurt us all far more than parking fees but it seems more abstract, not as close to home as something that we see constantly.”
Both party representatives agreed that Perth’s current public transport infrastructure isn’t a sufficient alternative to parking issues.
Heywood said that the time and inconvenience factor of public transport made it a poor solution for most students.
“Public transport isn’t anywhere near there yet, travel times and accessibility kill it as an option most of the time,” Heywood said.
“I wish it didn’t take 5x longer for me to catch a couple of buses to uni than to just drive.”
He also added that the situation could be improved by getting rid of CelloPark, lowering parking fees and making a permit option available.
Ms Francis shared similar views.
“Public transport isn’t exactly a viable option. It can often be late or very unreliable,” Francis said.
Especially for students who live in areas with less options and more irregular services.”
She also voiced her displeasure over Illuminate’s action on parking issues.
“We’ve seen parking fees more than double in some bays over the Illuminate administration. We don’t have to just accept continuously increasing parking fees,” Francis said.
A strong and active Guild that’s willing to take on the university around these issues could seriously improve student welfare and win cheaper parking.”
It remains to be seen how the upcoming Student Guild election is going to impact the pressing issue of parking at Curtin University.