Letter to the Editor: NU’s unsustainable parking projects

Dick Reif

Why does a university that champions sustainability conduct projects that threaten the environment? Here are some examples: The Chicago Tribune reported that Northwestern seeks a multi-year lease for 100 parking spaces in an Evanston garage at 525 Church St. This request comes just over a year after NU opened the North and South Campus garages.

How much parking space do NU’s faculty, staff and students need, and why does NU build or lease facilities that increase carbon emissions by encouraging people to drive instead of using alternate forms of transportation? Students voted for a coal divestment referendum that President Morty Schapiro supports. But blocking endowment funds to coal companies while enriching oil companies doesn’t make sense and doesn’t pass an ethical smell test.

The North Campus garage is near another environmental enemy, The Segal Visitors Center, that Pres. Schapiro & NU trustees dedicated in May. Building this $10 million, 170,000 square foot center on the lakefront destroyed the Clark Street bird habitat. NU is paying the full price of $173,000 to build a new habitat, but that doesn’t erase the original misdeed.

Why build a center to impress prospective students who can barely afford NU’s $63,983 yearly tab for tuition, room and board starting in 2016? This unsustainable cost endangers another species — the Wildcats — who will be replaced by the Fat Cats — the only living creatures who can afford to attend NU or send their kids there.

Dick Reif, Medill School of Journalism ’64