Back to school is usually associated with shelling out cash for school supplies and fall shopping. This fall, students at the College found something else to spend their money on – parking tickets.
Although parking tickets are common at any time of the year, Campus Police say that there is an increase in the beginning of every school year.
“What happens is that at the beginning of the school year, versus the beginning of spring semester in February, there are a lot of people who are parked here who don’t have parking decals,” Lt. Don Rizzo of Campus Police said. “They’re given a deadline. The deadline comes up and our officers go out and write out tickets for people and invariably there’s a couple of hundred tickets given out. It depends on how many (students) they (the officers) come across who don’t have their decals yet.”
Some students feel that paying $230 for the decal, whether they have it on the car or not, should be enough.
“I could not bring my car up to (the College) right away because it began to have transmission problems,” Sharlene Edwards, junior secondary education/English major, said. “I never picked up my parking decal because I was busy becoming adjusted to my new classes and I didn’t have my car on campus yet. On Sept. 13, my parents surprised me and brought my repaired car to campus at 10 p.m. I could not obtain my parking decal because Green Hall was obviously closed, so I parked my car in Lot 6 in the Metzger Drive Parking Garage, which is where my parking decal would have allowed me to park.”
Edwards said that she left a note on her dashboard explaining that she would be back with her decal as early in the morning as possible. When she got to her car, there was a ticket for $50.
“I do not see why I should be charged another $50 when I already paid $230 for the privilege to park on campus,” Edwards said. “It is my right to one of those parking spots in the Lot 6 Metzger Drive Parking Garage. I assume that Campus Police was able to see my parking permit status when they ran my license plate, which makes the ticket even more ludicrous.”
According to Campus Police, lack of a valid parking decal displayed on the car is the main reason for ticketing.
“(Students) have the decal and it could be anywhere but it’s not on the car,” Rizzo said.
While students report a dramatic increase in parking tickets this year, Campus Police say it’s nothing new.
“Every September we have this happen; people have excuses,” Rizzo said. “This goes through the month of September and the huge onslaught tends to slack off going into October because the students, faculty and staff get the permits and stick them on the cars.”
For some students, the problem is not the parking ticket itself but the extent to which Campus Police enforce the policy.
“I didn’t pick up my parking decal. I was parked in an upper level of Lot 6 from Tuesday night to Friday morning,” Tom Sales, senior political science/philosophy major, said. “I got five tickets in addition to a boot in that time. I received one ticket within three hours of a previous ticket. All of my tickets were written between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.”
It wasn’t just the amount of tickets that upset Sales. “The tickets showed up on my TESS account. I had previously registered the car with the College and it had last year’s sticker on it,” Sales said. “When they run my tags, it shows up that I paid for a parking pass and simply hadn’t picked it up yet. I was parked in a legal space. I feel it was a bit excessive.”
Stephanie Elyar, junior engineering major, said she was parked in Lot 9 but was slightly over the line. “When I went back to my car, I had a ticket for being parked in two spots, even though there was a car parked in the spot next to me. It annoyed me, but I paid it because I had no proof in my defense. Fifty dollars was a little steep though.”
The increase in parking tickets creates a greater rift between students and police, but Campus Police officers say they are striving to do the opposite and unify the student body and the police.
“The cops are here to enforce the laws, but the laws are there for everyone’s safety,” Rizzo said. “We’re here for safety purposes. If we can get people to realize that and think about that, each individual can take a part in making their life and everyone else’s safer, and by doing that you’re helping your fellow students, they’re helping you, you’re helping us.”