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Debate surrounds distribution of $375M

Kaitlyn Lyle / Lantern reporter

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With the university looking into monetizing the parking assets on Ohio State’s campus, OSU students have many different ideas about how to spend some of the revenue brought in by the proposed lease.

Currently, the minimum bid for a lease of the assets is $375 million for a 30 to 50-year lease. In this case, the university would not only make $375 million in a lump-sum, but it would save nearly $225 million in operation costs.

The estimated $375 million lump sum would be put in a university endowment. If the endowment returns what OSU officials expect it to, it will fund the CABS bus service, faculty research and student scholarships, said OSU’s chief financial officer Geoff Chatas.

While most students are on board with more scholarships and keeping CABS running, there are concerns about where some of the money profited from the deal should go.

Brianna Papotto, a third-year in athletic training, said she thinks the money should be spent on increasing student safety measures, especially with the recent increase in crime around campus.

“The recent increase in crime doesn’t make me feel safe enough to walk around campus,” Papotto said. “Unless you call the Student Safety Services hours in advance, there is little-to-no chance of them getting to you in a reasonable amount of time.”

Jillian Renda, a third-year in hospitality management, agreed with Papotto.

“Right now being on campus, I think my main concern is safety and getting to classes and back from classes without getting beat up,” Renda said.

Other students suggested increasing scholarships, lowering tuition and creating more on-campus parking.

Nick Messenger, president of OSU Undergraduate Student Government, said they are working to find a way to use the money to benefit all students.

“There aren’t a whole lot of things you can spend money on that impacts every single student,” Messenger said.

Messenger sits on the Parking Advisory Committee, along with Vijay Gadepally, the president of the Council of Graduate Students. The two lone students on the committee, Messenger and Gadepally are responsible for keeping the students’ interests heard at the committee meetings and raising student awareness of the proceedings.

USG has considered using the money to pay off debt on newly constructed buildings, which students still pay fees on each quarter.

For Autumn Quarter 2011, students paid a $51 fee on the Ohio Union alone, totaling $612 per student over the course of a typical four-year period at the university.

“We all pay $3,900 about in fees over the course of our four years here. If you cut that by $600, that’s a 20 percent fee reduction for the next 30 or 50 years for every single student that comes to Ohio State; graduate, professional, undergrad,” Messenger said.

Renda said she likes the idea of paying off construction debt.

“They’re going to have to pay that eventually, and rather than having students pay more per quarter, if they could earn that much money by selling the parking, that would be good,” Renda said.

This idea and others are still in development. The decision process is not yet in the phase of deciding what to do with the money, Messenger said.

“It’s definitely in our best interest as students that we are negotiating for something that comes back to every single student,” Messenger said. “The fee thing’s a suggestion, but there are other things we can spend money on, that are for every single student, that aren’t kind of narrow developments with that money.”

Although they can’t control the fee increase, Messenger said USG is also working to ensure that students won’t pay any fees that they don’t pay now, like being able to park in garages for free for events at the Union and other buildings around campus.

Companies that were interested were asked to show their qualifications for running the university’s parking operations by Nov. 2.

At a town hall meeting Nov. 9, Chatas said OSU had a list of 10 interested companies.

As of Nov. 10, the university has released a list of seven qualified companies: Alinda & Interpark, Carlyle Infrastructure Partners & Standard Parking, Industry Funds Management & Parking Solutions, Macquarie Capital & Central Parking, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan & Imperial Parking, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Ampco/ACS and QIC Private Capital & LAZ Parking, according to a press release on OSU’s business and finance website.

The bidding process will not begin until Winter Quarter 2012, Chatas said.

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