The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Keep student parking free at El Camino

Jeremiah Dela Cruz | Special to The Union

Free parking has been available to El Camino College students since the 2022 spring semester and it should continue to be so.

While some concessions have been made, the decision to make parking free at El Camino was ultimately a good one. The goal of instituting free parking at El Camino was to ease the financial burden for students and to increase enrollment.

Continuing free parking for students forced El Camino to cut off a source of revenue. Parking passes generated $513,370 and daily permit machines generated $196,393 at during the 2019-2020 school year.

In the 2020-2021 academic year, those same daily permit machines only brought in $2,607.

While the losses were due in part to in-person classes ending for a time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the college decided to keep parking free after a return to in-person classes due to several factors, with student retention being one.

As someone who drives to El Camino, it is reassuring to know when I get to campus my only worry is finding an open spot and not paying for daily permits.

Students currently don’t have to worry about permits, daily fees, or parking violation fines as long as they park in student lots.

Earlier this year on Feb. 14, the Office of Marketing and Communications sent out an email stating general parking would remain “free for the remainder of the academic year.”

While there are no immediate indications El Camino will reverse its decision to make parking free for students, El Camino leadership should keep in mind for future decisions how much students appreciate the free parking.

Before, a parking permit would cost $35 for fall and spring, and daily parking permits would cost $3.

While it may not seem like a lot of money to some people, for those on a tight budget or less privileged, it might be. Many El Camino students fit that criteria making the free parking especially valuable.

Other colleges such as Santa Monica College, Southwest College and West Los Angeles College require students to pay for parking.

Santa Monica College parking permits for the fall and spring semesters cost $93.50 while winter and summer semester permits cost $49.50.

At Southwest College, parking permits for fall and spring cost $20 and winter and summer semester parking permits cost $7.

West Los Angeles College parking permits for fall and spring are $27 for preferred parking and $20 for regular parking. Winter and summer parking permits cost $10 for preferred parking and $7 for regular parking.

Making parking free for students has seemingly not financially hurt El Camino in a significant way. Rather, it could give the college a positive reputation among thrifty students.

What has hurt El Camino financially is the decrease in full-time students following the pandemic and subsequent quarantine. Although enrollment has been growing recently, it is still not at the level it was before the pandemic.

The amount of state funding El Camino receives is contingent on the amount of students enrolled so a decrease in full-time students means a decrease in state funding.

In an Academic Senate meeting on Sept. 5, Vice President of Academic Affairs Carlos Lopez said there was a big increase in enrollment in the previous winter and summer semesters.

One of the goals of free student parking was to help increase enrollment.

It would be wrong to assume the increase in enrollment has solely been the result of free student parking but it is fair to say it has helped.

El Camino administrators should remember why they made student parking free and it should remain free.

Editor’s Note: Illustration added to article on Oct. 11, at 12:54 p.m.

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