What's the Deal with Parking?
Have you ever walked toward your car, seen that little white piece of paper flapping wildly between your windshield and wiper, dropped to your knees, and with hands raised palms up towards the sky, screamed "why, god, why?!!"? Well neither have I, but I have come awfully close. There have been many times these last eight months when I have caught sight of the ticket signing my life (read: money for shoes, beer, charity-insert whichever noun holds a place closest to your heart) away to security.
I think I should preface this somewhat self-indulgent rant by saying that I like security. Coombs, you're my man. I believe that as a team, campus security has really ensured the safety of our campus community and worked hard for the benefit of the often ungrateful student body. That being said, I have to declare the parking ticket system to be flawed and inconsistent. Okay, so the spots that specifically state "handicap parking only" are clearly designated areas where average, all-four-limbs-working people like you and me should probably not park our Honda Accords.
However, there are many spots (at least ten that I have tested personally) around campus which aren't labeled and turn out to be prime sites for incurring the wrath of the parking ticket. Twenty-five dollars is a lot of money-especially when multiplied by tickets accumulating into the double digits. Lets take the parking lot and hill behind Dana as an example. Prime ticketing hours are obviously those that coincide with meals. However, there are three spots in particular-yeah, you know the ones I'm talking about, the ones between Runnals and the back entrance of Dana that only sometimes violate parking prohibitions. You know, the ones with the black poles at the head? They are the ones outlined by thick, white paint lines, which in my opinion, justify parking one's vehicle there. My humble '95 black Volvo station wagon has been parked there on quite a few occasions; sometimes I get tickets and sometimes I don't.
Parking on campus has become increasingly difficult over the last few years, probably because of the rising number of students who are driving cars up to school. Do you remember the day last week when all the prospective students were visiting and there was absolutely NO parking on campus? I'm sure you do because we all got emails reminding us to be nice to the new boys and girls who would bring in more tuition money. I'm serious. I circled the Foss, Bobs and even Hillside parking lots like a hawk trying to spot a parking space. To no avail, I resorted to the Eustis parking lot. In all fairness there are signs that clearly state it is a faculty/employee lot.
I'm probably just an idiot, but I always figured that since I have seen students parking there, that if there's room it's okay to do so. I think I just thought that the lots gives first dibs to the faculty because it's so close to the class buildings. I had parked successfully in the row closest to the green so many times, unscathed, that I assumed there was some sort of unspoken rule: if there's room, go for it, but don't race a professor for a spot.
It wasn't until a certain dean, who shall remain nameless, hit my car in Eustis that I received my first ticket. I mean, there was nowhere to park. Legitimately, nowhere else. Perhaps we should all be leaving our SUVs and Subarus alike at home-not only to make the crunchy Foss kids happy, but to actually help reduce our carbon footprint-but let's get real. I need to drive from my off-campus house to school and also to Shaws when I need late night pints of Ben and Jerrys cherry Garcia ice cream. Jokes.
But seriously, there are valid reasons (like living off-campus) why students might need cars and there should be valid parking areas for those students. I'm not calling for the demolition of West and East quads to ensure that Jane has somewhere to park her Range Rover, but I am saying that it is wildly unfair for students to receive $25 parking tickets when there are simply inadequate spaces available to them. What should we do about it? I don't know. I'll open that question up to those who (still) read the digest. Remember kids, you have ten days in which to file an appeal for those lousy parking tickets...