WMU students rally against $120,000 temporary parking lot

September 18, 2007

KALAMAZOO -- Students at Western Michigan University are protesting the controversial renovation of a parking lot on campus. The group has recently started a page on the social networking website, and already lists over 500 supporters. On Monday night, a large group of students rallied in the lot to protest by chalking it with price tags indicating the wasteful spending.

Senior Dustin Spicuzza and graduate student Jon Anderson were disgusted as they observed the renovation of a parking lot over the summer between Sangren Hall and Kanley Chapel on WMU's campus.

The two researched the total cost of the project through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in mid-August. When they received the response, they were shocked to find out that it cost around $120,000, and that the university plans to tear down the parking lot when Sangren Hall is renovated.

"Despite that $120,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the overall budget per year, its still a lot of money -- especially considering that WMU is cutting budgets, instituting hiring freezes and raising tuition," Spicuzza said.

Spicuzza created a Web site and placed the documents online. He also created a group on Facebook and invited a few friends. The group, "WMU spent $120,000 and all I got was this ugly parking lot," quickly ballooned to over 500 students within the first week. It has attracted the attention of students and senior WMU officials.

To raise awareness of this issue, they initially planned to label each item on the parking lot with giant yellow price tags, but decided to use chalk instead. On Monday night, they spent two hours writing prices near every single item on the parking lot. Additionally, they wrote labels such as "equal to 3 credit hours", to show in real terms how much was being spent on each item.

One of the group's primary goals is to encourage more transparency in future projects, Anderson said. "If anyone outside of the people who approved this had taken a look at the actual plans, there could have been resistance to it from the beginning, and the university could have done something more fiscally responsible and aesthetically pleasing with the lot."

More information about the parking lot, Facebook group, and the FOIA response documents can be found at

Dustin Spicuzza