The parking permit for students who will be attending the Seton Hall University Interprofessional Health Sciences Campus (IHS) in Nutley this year is set for $485 plus tax, however, negotiations are underway by the administration. The price of this permit led one student to begin a petition to lower the permit price and it has surpassed its goal of 1,000 signatures.
The petition, “Reduce Seton Hall IHS Parking Fees,” can be found on the website iPetitions. The petition’s goal of reaching 1,000 signatures was accomplished in about two weeks and a little over a 1,000 people have signed it as of Aug. 19.
Julianna Cianfano, a speech language pathology major entering her first year of graduate school, started the petition on Aug. 3.
Public Safety and Security sent out an email about parking permit sales, announcing the price of the new $485 plus tax parking permit for the IHS campus. The pass is for the fall, spring and summer semesters.
It is the only parking permit option sent out in the email that is currently offered for the new campus. The permit is valid for the IHS/Nutley campus, in addition to the South Orange campus. It also includes access to Hackensack Meridian Health locations.
Cianfano wrote in an email, “I started this petition because I wanted to make my, and the many other students and families, voices heard after hearing about such an irrationally high parking permit price for the IHS Nutley campus.”
Part of her online petition reads, “We do not see the need in having to pay over $500 (with tax) for a parking permit because it’s granting me access to hospitals and two campuses, one of which most of us will not need.”
It also states, “This is a petition proposing that the IHS students at Seton Hall be granted a lower rate for a parking pass – one that is just reflective of parking expenses at the Nutley campus. We are asking the Seton Hall and Hackensack work together to please take into consideration the financial burdens of many of your students right now.”
Cianfano said in her email that she just completed her four years at the South Orange campus and has “had to make a lot of financial sacrifices and changes for my education, especially with this campus change.”
She said that when she originally accepted her six year program at Seton Hall, she intended to live at home during her two years of graduate school so she could save money. However, last year she learned about the IHS campus moving farther north, leaving her with the decision to rent an apartment closer to campus.
“My undergrad loan payments kick in in a few months, I’m paying rent to live by school, I have other life expenses, I just took out thousands of dollars in loans for this first year of grad school. I am not the only student with this story,” she said. “We are so far into debt, and now this absurd price for a permit just became an impractical expense for many of us.”
Cianfano added, “That is why I started this petition – to make this story of a typical Seton Hall Graduate student heard.”
“With this petition, I hope for at least one of two things – a reduction in price or options,” Cianfano said, explaining that students want options when choosing a parking permit.
She said that SHU’s South Orange campus has different situational passes, such as evening, spring, fall and summer. However, the Nutley campus binds students “to one option at one price,” she said.
“It would be great if we could pay per semester so not all of the money was due at once or have a carpool option,” she said.
Cianfano said that once the petition reached 1,000 signatures she planned to show it to the President’s Office and personnel at the office of Student Services, such as Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Tracy Gottlieb, who Cianfano has been in contact with.
Cianfano said that Parking Services and Gottlieb told her that Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) “has the authority to set these parking prices.” She added, “I was also informed that access to South Orange campus is a ‘courtesy’ as well as access to parking at HMH locations. It is a nice plus, however, still at an absurd price.”
“I understand that HMH has the executive decision here, however what me and everyone who signed the petition are urging Seton Hall to do is to fight for their students,” she said. “Work together to come up with a reasonable price and/or plan that does not financially hurt the students more than they already are. All we would like is for our voices to be heard and have options to choose from.”
Gottlieb said that the IHS/Nutley permit is a yearlong permit. The permit includes the clinical sites run by Hackensack Meridian, the IHS/Nutley campus and South Orange.
She has received emails from students about this new parking permit. Some students believe they are being charged such a high price because the permit also allows them to park at South Orange, but according to Gottlieb, that’s not the case.
Gottlieb said she didn’t want students with the IHS/Nutley pass to feel like they couldn’t park at South Orange and so South Orange was added to the permit. Including South Orange parking to the permit is like an added bonus because students with the IHS/Nutley permit are only being charged to park on the new campus, not South Orange.
She said SHU is not making money off of these permits. Hackensack Meridian set the parking permit price because they’re in charge of parking and the parking lot, she explained.
She said the administration is working on getting a half year permit for the students who won’t be there for a year. She said they are also working on getting a reduced parking price for students who only come to campus around 10 times a year. She said some students in SHU’s School of Health and Medical Sciences (SHMS) only come to campus around 10 times a year and so the administration is “trying to work out a fair parking fee for them.”
Gottlieb said she is hopeful they can come up with a good resolution.
Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Stephen Graham, could not be reached in time for comment about the negotiations.
Numerous students have signed the petition and left comments in support of lowering the permit price.
Second year occupational therapy student Rachael Tucker signed the petition. A student in the School of Health and Medical Sciences, Tucker said she is transferring to the IHS campus this fall.
Tucker wrote in an email that she and others have classes all year round and so it makes the most sense that commuter students buy the annual pass, which is over $500. She said to add that to an increase in graduate credit tuition.
She said she is a graduate student paying thousands of dollars for the three year graduate program along with expensive textbooks and she can’t afford to spend $500 for parking.
Another student, Olivia Franklin, a sophomore in the College of Nursing, is also in support of the petition.
“I signed the petition because I believe students pay enough with tuition and room and board, and do not need to be burdened with a $500 parking pass,” she wrote in an email.
Franklin said she understands $100 to $200 parking passes per semester, but finds a $500 pass to park at Nutley “ridiculous.” She said, “Students, including myself, in the class of 2021 were not told about the new campus until we committed and made our first payments.”
“If it were up to me, I wish Seton Hall would have just updated the nursing building we have now, rather than forcing students to have to make a 30 minute commute in a highly congested area,” she said.
Franklin added, “Seton Hall should have been more careful with their funds and all the issues that are occurring would not even be possible.”
She said that “Seton Hall needs to take action, listen to their ‘customers’ and lower parking prices before they begin to lose future enrollment.”
Others have also recently started petitions on iPetitions to reduce the parking permit price for IHS, but none of them have currently garnered enough support as Cianfano’s petition has.
One of those petitions was created by “Outraged Employees” and lists their concerns. It reads, “The recent announcement of a $485 fee for parking has outraged the employees and faculty of the new facility.” It also says that the SHMS and School of Nursing employees “request that that the fee of $485.00 be adjusted, or eradicated.”
Samantha Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.