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A perceived spike in parking tickets wreak havoc on campus

By John Grimaldi

By the time Kees Grondstra showed up on campus for preseason football practices in August, he had ordered a parking pass for the school year, and was using the suggested temporary print-out pass until the official sticker came in the mail. In his mind, he was approved to park his car on campus. “I printed out the receipt and threw it on the dashboard,” said Grondstra. “[Public Safety] still put a ticket right next to my receipt.”

The ticket came just the other day on Tuesday, October 16, when he found a citation on his car for 25$, his second ticket of the semester. The reason? An invalid pass.

Grondstra described his frustration in receiving a ticket after paying full price for a parking pass. “After a week or two of using the temporary pass, I kept checking my mailbox only to find nothing there and I figured that the printout pass was just as valid as a real sticker,” he said. “There’s a bar code you can scan, and if there’s a deadline, they (public safety) should let us know.”

Officer Cheri Burton of the Springfield College Police Department explained that there is a deadline for certain temporary passes. “What we tell everyone is, if your temporary permit has expired prior to you getting you physical permit, all you have to do is come here to public safety,” said Burton. “We just go in and extend the deadline out for a few more weeks, and then if their permit still hasn’t arrived, then we need to be concerned and check the status of the order. If the temporary permit is expired, our ticket machines show us.”

Parking in your assigned lot seems easy until the semester is finally underway. Many students with passes are ticketed for simply parking in an unassigned lot just to run into a building to meet a friend. Grondstra received his first ticket over Columbus Day weekend for leaving his car in the Lakeside lot. He’s a resident of Lakeside Hall, and it doesn’t seem unreasonable that he’d park there if there was a space available. Because his permit only allows him to park in lots 7 (Gulick), 15 (Stagg), and 2 (Blake), Grondstra was cited $50 for parking in a space next to Lakeside.

Officer Burton detailed the levels of citations at the college. “Generally, at the very early stages it’s like a warning. The warning phase is when everyone gets on campus, and we try to give everyone a feel to get familiarized to where they should be parking, the lots that they’re permitted for. The first two weeks of school we’re not ticketing, so that way we give everyone a chance to buy their permit if they haven’t already done so.”

Tye Mill, a senior living off campus, spoke on receiving three tickets fairly quickly this semester. Mill believes there could be corrections made to the ticketing system when it comes to citations after school time hours.  “For the ticket behind admission at 5:45p.m., I was getting dinner with a few friends, I was there for 25 minutes and I got hit with a $50 ticket. Every spot was open at that time,” said Mill.

Mill wasn’t able to appeal his tickets because he hasn’t purchased a parking pass for the year, a surprising policy considering there are so many who visit Springfield College on a daily basis. 

Burton explained this policy. “If you do not have a valid parking permit to park on campus, you are not entitled to file an appeal, that is the ruling. If you’re parking on campus and acquiring citations, you can’t say, “Oh, I got this ticket and now I want you to take it back. We do try to stop it so it’s not a waste of time for everyone like when someone last week clearly didn’t have a permit and didn’t know the policy. If you’re planning on buying one, there’s the possibility of reducing the ticket, or even removing it.”

Grondstra argues that the warning phase should be extended beyond the initial two-week grace period. “I don’t know where the disconnection was. Issue a warning first,” he suggested. “Allow the student to acknowledge that they got the warning, then be allowed a period of time to fix the infraction. The school has to understand that most of us are full time students. I touch my car maybe once a week. If I do something I’m not supposed to, I’m not going to know unless I’m told. Right now the only way I’m being told is by being hit with $25-$50 tickets.”

Campus Police and Security alike can issue citations. Burton says she’ll only ticket if she’s seen a car parked illegally for a significant amount of time.  Policy isn’t set it stone, and officers understand there are situations that need an explanation, and they’ll adjust the tickets accordingly. “When we’re out driving around and all I see is a car that is parked somewhere that it shouldn’t be, I don’t know the circumstance behind it. When you file your appeal and you come here and tell me that you were parked in Abbey circle, but you were helping your friend on crutches who was carrying her groceries in, you were helping someone.”

The appeal process leaves students with one of two options accompanying a written argument contesting the ticket. Students can select a date to show up and make their case for their appeal in person. The other option is to allow the appeals board to decide on their own based on your written appeal whether your situation merits a reduced or removed citation.

A history of students abusing the privilege of parking in unassigned lots overnight is the reasoning behind tickets early in the morning.

“We open up lot four, and the rule is you have to be out by 8am. When all the faculty and staff come in, there’s still a lot of cars there. Students are parking there and they don’t really want to get up at 8 in the morning.”

Same goes for the spots behind the administration building. Students parking there for dinner turns into students parking there overnight, which causes issues when faculty and staff arrive at their reserved spots in the morning. If though, there was a period of time in the afternoon into the early night when students were free to park in unassigned spots/lots, when many who would be occupying those spots are already gone for the night, it would be extremely convenient for many.

Whether parking issues on campus increase as the year progresses, or decrease, there is agreement that something needs to be done about about the Springfield College parking policy. The policy itself doesn’t seem incredibly unreasonable, but the communication between those ticketing and those receiving tickets is lacking. After bringing awareness to the issue, hopefully it won’t be long before students go to the school with suggestions on how to create changes surrounding parking citations.

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