It’s not much of a debate that college is expensive. Between the tuition, room and board, dining, books and more, the six figure price-tag at a four-year institution can be suffocating. Frankly, Duke is no different, though I’d argue that it is much more a byproduct of the system than a catalyst for it. But what this column is about—and what has frustrated me and my classmates so specifically—is the unrelenting way in which the University seeks to extract cash from students’ wallets on day-to-day basis.

Just yesterday, a sophomore and close friend of mine texted me letting me know that he had been charged $40 in late fees for borrowing a computer charger. After losing his a few nights before a midterm, he had rented one from the school for a few days. Upon returning it, he was informed that he was eight hours late, and that the penalty that would result in a fine. As it turns out, Duke charges $5 an hour after students fail to return a computer charger at the designated time. Maybe it’s just the view from where I sit, but that punishment certainly doesn’t seem to fit the crime.

What’s so frustrating about stories like this is that they occur all the time. Just yesterday, my friend forgot his DukeCard when he went to Wilson and was promptly charged five dollars. Not only does this problem seem unnecessary, but it fits into a larger narrative in which Duke’s bureaucratic arms work tirelessly to squeeze every last dollar out of its students. Why isn’t there a database with student photos so that when someone forgets their DukeCard, they can simply offer their name and go to the gym? This solution isn’t novel, and it’s hard to believe that this school lacks the software or technology to implement such a database.

I’m not the only columnist to have written about Duke’s parking nightmare, and I’m far from the only student to have had it negatively effect their daily experience. This past Tuesday, I was trying to find a parking spot on East Campus for one of my classes, and ended up in the Gilbert-Addoms lot, which had three open spaces. An hour and a half later, I found a $40 ticket on my windshield, placed a foot away from the $350 Blue Zone parking pass I had little choice but to purchase. There are rules for a reason, but in the current parking climate it’s almost inconceivable that students are charged such steep fines for trying to get to class on time. Why not temper the fine to say, five dollars, if transportation staff sees at least some form of parking identification in a student vehicle?

These stories might sound redundant, but my hope is that they help illustrate the wide range and disturbing diversity of ways that Duke is able to make each day a pay day. Students live on budgets, and $40 out the window often does more harm than many administrators recognize. Duke may be able to hide these charges under the guise of “rules” and “policies,” but ultimately it becomes indicative of a concerted effort to treat students as a source of revenue rather than the present and future lifeblood of the school.

Where then is the compromise? I’m not insisting that the school’s operation devolve into anarchy, but it’s clear to me, as it is to many students, that the administrative branches of the University are not doing everything they can to reduce the number of ways that students have to pay for their education. From parking to the gym to the renting of a computer charger, there seem to be ample opportunities to cut the yellow tape or, at the very least, moderate it. The switches are quick and easy, sometimes so much as downloading some new software. It’s not a big investment, and while it may reduce some revenue it will almost assuredly increase student appreciation of Duke.

My four years at this school have unequivocally been the best four years of my life, and I have every intention of giving back to an institution that has given so much to me. Still, when I find yet another parking ticket stuck to my windshield simply for trying to make it to my seminar on East Campus, I can’t help but feel that I’m being cheated. I want so desperately to believe that the value I place on Duke is reciprocated, but when my wallet gets squeezed on the daily, its hard not to feel like I’m being nickeled and dimed.

Caleb Ellis is a Trinity senior. His column runs on alternate Fridays.