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Football, Sex, and Parking

An old adage is that a university is a happy place if the administration provides football for the alumni, parking for the faculty, and sex for the students.

I assume that the free market is working well at my university for the students; and the university administration always works hard on football for the alumni: we’re now building a 15,000 seat addition to the already 80,000-seat football stadium.

Being a faculty member, I worry about faculty parking.

Many of my colleagues have had parking spots next to our building, but most of that parking lot is being replaced by a new building — so they’ve been exiled to a garage four long blocks away. This annoys me, but using the lot for a building makes sense; the opportunity cost of the land is far too high to waste on parking. I just hope the building has a lot of square footage so that this valuable land is used intensively.

I wonder, though, whether the people who administer this university thought their choices through. The extra 20 minutes (the walks to/from the garage) are a fixed cost of people’s daily commutes. This additional fixed cost gives them a disincentive to come into the office each day, and an incentive to try bunching their appointments, teaching, and office hours on fewer days to spread the fixed costs.

Since they have some freedom over their schedules, henceforth some of them may be working entirely at home more often. They will become a partial tele-commuter thanks to these changed incentives.

The cohesiveness of the university community might be reduced.