Students attending the Seton Hall University Interprofessional Health Sciences Campus (IHS) in Nutley now have a new permit option available to them – a half-year permit.
In August, students were told the only permit option available for the IHS campus was a $485 plus tax permit that was valid for the fall, spring and summer semesters. This caused a commotion among students and prompted one to start a petition to lower the permit price.
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.
As previously reported by The Setonian, the petition called, “Reduce Seton Hall IHS Parking Fees,” surpassed its goal of 1,000 signatures. The petition can be found on the website iPetitions and as of Sept. 12, 1,105 people have signed it in support.
Julianna Cianfano, a speech language pathology major entering her first year of graduate school, started the petition on Aug. 3.
Negotiations are underway between Seton Hall and Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) over different permit options for students.
Stephen Graham, Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer, said that the rate was not the only thing negotiated.
“The responsibility for maintenance of existing parking lots and the cost of construction of a new parking garage were part of those negotiations,” he said. “They are the responsibility of HMH.”
The rate for the IHS parking permit “was a process of years of negotiation with Hackensack over the parking needs on the campus,” Graham said. “Finally, what was agreed to was that Hackensack should take on all the costs of providing and maintaining parking on the campus, and has agreed to build a garage at their cost on the new campus.”
He added, “In exchange, they are the ones that are charging for parking and setting the rate and we have agreed, at least for this year, to be the mechanism for billing because we have the student billing process and they didn’t have a billing process that was ready to go. And so maybe in the future we won’t be the entity that’s billing directly.”
Since then, he said they have analyzed the different kinds of students that are on the IHS campus and how they could be affected. He spoke about the negotiation for the half-year permit rate and said there will also be a daily rate for students who are only there on a “periodic basis” because they are out on clinical or something like that.
He said that will be Hackensack who needs to put gates up and have a kiosk for the daily rate. Graham said that will take a “couple months for that to get put in place.”
Graham also spoke about refunds for those who already bought the full-year permit, but won’t be on campus the whole year. He said, “If a student bought a full year pass, but only need[s] a half-year, they can receive a refund for the full-year as they are purchasing the half-year pass.”
He said students can reach out to Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Tracy Gottlieb, or Parking Services staff for help with this.
Currently, there are three permit negotiations. The half-year permit has already been approved and there will also be the daily rate. As previously reported by The Setonian and confirmed by Graham, there will also be a permit for people who are on campus around 10 days or so.
The half-year rate has been communicated to the IHS campus, Graham said. He added, “Students needing a half year rate should obtain their parking pass through the SHU parking department. Visitors and those that go to the IHS infrequently will not be charged the daily rate until HMH installs gates to the parking lots and creates a billing mechanism for those individuals.”
He added, “Until that time, ticketing will not occur or will be infrequent. If a student is ticketed, they should contact the SHU parking office.”
Graham said that “there won’t be penalties assessed to individuals that park on campus that are not full-year permit parkers. We’ll give some leeway to individuals until we get everything nailed down.”
Graham spoke about how the negotiations will affect students.
“I think it’s gonna be positive in terms of being responsive to the individual students that have more unique parking requirements for the campus,” he said. “So I think for those students that are affected, it will be positive to them and we’ll work to get this all resolved as soon as possible.” He added, “Going forward in terms of the full-time rate on the campus, the other thing I can say is that we do have controls in place in terms of negotiation with them [HMH] from our agreement that they can’t increase the rate greater than the undergraduate rate increase each year. So there is some control on how much they could raise the rate in the future.”
Graham elaborated on this with an example, saying that if undergraduate tuition increases by three percent, HMH can’t increase the parking rate greater than three percent in that year.
Graham said that IHS is “providing incredible services to the students for the health sciences.” He added, “But with every new venture there is some aspects that are not perfect so we’re working to resolve these issues as best we can and continue to provide the best services we can to our students.”
Gottlieb sent out an email to those on the IHS campus on Wednesday, Sept. 5, about the new permit option for half-year parking.
The email reads that students at the IHS campus that are graduating in December or are in classes for only one semester can buy a one-semester parking permit for $250. The permit still allows students to park at IHS, all HMH facilities for clinical practice and on SHU’s South Orange campus, but only until Jan. 13, 2019.
The email also says that students who already bought the year-long permit but think they need the one-semester permit instead should call Parking Services Manager Ann Szipszky for instructions.
The email states, “Meanwhile, for members of the community who are interested in a daily parking fee, Seton Hall continues to work with HMH to create a policy and process for a daily parking permit.”
Cianfano said she never expected so many people to sign her petition.
“It was such a great feeling to see so many students come together and voice their opinions,” she said. “I knew that I could not be the only student appalled by the rates charged for parking on the new campus.”
Cianfano said she received Gottlieb’s email last Wednesday about the negotiations that HMH and SHU have been working on.
“I was so shocked and happy to see that we could have at least the option of a semesterly pass. I definitely think more can be done, such as reducing the fees even the slightest or, as the email mentioned they were working on, creating a daily fee for a pass,” Cianfano said. “However, this is a win for the student body at the SHU-IHS campus and definitely a step in the right direction.”
Students shared their opinions on the parking permit situation.
Sarah Luczak, a senior nursing major, said she has heard of the petition and thinks it’s “a great idea to lower the permit prices.”
She wrote in an email that she’s on the new campus two times a week and said the price she had to pay for the permit was “ridiculous.” She still commutes from the South Orange campus and said she had already bought the $485 plus tax parking permit, which was stressful for her.
“I pay for my own parking pass so the money I had to spend on the permit really affected me,” Luczak wrote.
She also spoke about the new permit options.
“I still do not agree with simplifying the parking permits to buy them per semester; if you do the math, that is actually more money to be spent than buying the full year,” she said. “I truly feel that they should have decreased the parking permit price for the entire year as it is just unacceptable to have to pay so much for a parking space.”
Stephanie Bade, a senior nursing major, has heard of the petition as well.
She wrote in an email that, “Along with the 1,105 other people who signed this petition, I believe I can speak for us all when I say that we love the education in which we are receiving from Seton Hall and are stoked with all of the new technology at the IHS campus but, I believe it is fair for these students to state their opinion on lowering permit prices. After all, we are all still students and have numerous loans and various finances to pay for.”
Bade said that “even if Seton Hall was able to create a single semester pass, it does not make a difference for the nursing majors because no matter if I bought it by individual semester or all three combined it would still cost me $500.” She wants SHU to make a pass for just the fall and spring semesters.
Samantha Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.