Recently the Indianapolis Business Journal carried a front-page story reporting a revolution in university life. “Indiana University is considering leasing its parking assets in Bloomington and Indianapolis.” This would be following the lead of Ohio State.
First, a bit of background: Many years ago, the president of the University of California described the tasks of a college leader: to provide football for the alumni, sex for the students, and parking for the faculty.
IU seems to be wavering from this traditional direction. Leasing the parking lots currently managed by the university will bring in a big bundle of money now (Ohio State got $483 million) and several million each year.
Critics immediately pointed to the major questions such a deal brings forth: What will the university do with the up-front money? How much would private sector operators of the parking lots increase fees to make their financial goals? What provisions are made for improvement of the campus parking arrangements? Will land now devoted to parking be available for alternative uses in the future without having to pay an extraordinary amount to the lease holder?