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Many faculty oppose parking privatization

Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor

A large majority of Ohio State faculty said they do not support the recent proposal to privatize OSU’s parking operations. During a weeklong survey window, 1,047 out of the 1,252 faculty who responded said they do not support privatization of OSU parking operations.

Eighty-six participants responded that they do favor the issue and 119 said they don’t know enough about the privatization proposal to take a position. Out of the faculty members who decided to take a position on the issue, 92.4 percent were in opposition to the proposal and 7.6 percent were in favor of the issue.

The university is considering a proposal that would include selling its parking to a third-party vendor for an up-front, one-time cost of at least $375 million. The university is determining guidelines to which the third-party vendor will have to abide by, such as setting a cap for how much the vendor might raise parking rates.

The proposal has upset many faculty members and students because the vendor is permitted to raise parking prices by 7.5 percent annually for the first ten years of the contract or the price of inflation, whichever is higher. However, the university administration said selling the parking would reap benefits for the university due to its plan to put profits into an endowment that would acquire interest.

Enrico Bonello, a member of Faculty Council and a professor of plant pathology, said he has seen a strong-arm of opposition to the proposal.

“I have not seen or heard one person who has voiced their opinion in favor of privatization,” Bonello said. “We are almost all in agreement.”

The survey was hosted on Zoomerang, an online host for surveys and polls. A total of 2,804 faculty members were invited to participate in the survey that was distributed via email and included assistant, associate and full professors.

The combined faculty response rate was 44.7 percent.

The survey entailed two questions, each with three response options. The first question was: “Do you support privatization of OSU parking operations?” Faculty members were permitted to respond either “yes,” “no” or “I don’t know enough about it.” The second question asked whether the participant was a faculty member, staff member or student. Any accidental responses that were students were discarded.

Linda Lobao, another Faculty Council member and professor of rural sociology and geography, said she’s also heard only negative opinions about the proposal.

“I have heard an overwhelming voice of opposition,” Lobao said. “I have not heard of any faculty member that supports privatization.”

Geoff Chatas, university chief financial officer, said OSU is preparing the request for proposals, RFP, which is phase three of the five-step process. An RFP occurs when the university invites prospective third-party vendors to submit a proposal concerning a specific commodity, which in this case would be parking.

Chatas said the RFP will be issued in late April.

“If we issue the RFP in late April, at this point the responses would be due in early June. This is the current schedule, but it could change,” Chatas said.

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