CAROLINE NOLAN ’14
It’s the beginning of the academic year. After spending hours lugging all of your belongings up flights of stairs, cleaning, and rearranging furniture, you begin the annual process of settling in. Before everyone else has the same idea, you head over to Campus Safety to get your parking permit for the year. As you begin to fill out all of the necessary information, you glance over at the price: $200. Two hundred dollars? For a parking sticker?!
It’s an extravagant purchase, but how could you possibly put a price on the convenience of having your car on campus? Think of all the times you will need to run to CVS/the mall/Savers to buy an outfit that you’ll only wear once for that themed party next week.
Maybe you’re living in one of the few dorms with a kitchen and will need to make regular trips to the grocery store. What if you need to be home on short notice? Two hundred dollars starts to sound like a deal, so you continue to fill out the form, get your parking sticker, and continue with your day.
For a while, everything is fine. You consistently get a good place to park, right outside of your dorm, and can even make a quick trip to Dunkin’ before class every morning without someone stealing your spot. There’s always competition for the best spots, but generally there seems to be more than enough parking for everyone. Then, a few weeks later, campus seems a bit empty.
Whether it’s over Trinity Days or just happens to be a quiet weekend, there are more parking spots open in every lot than you’ve seen all semester. Then, one Monday, it happens: like the plague of locusts in Egypt, cars begin to flood campus. What was once a leisurely drive to get coffee becomes a race to get back before anyone else in his or her car can take your spot from you.
After the first few weeks of the semester, the rules concerning student parking lots slack. A few cars here and there begin to appear without parking stickers, taking spots from students who have paid the $200 (or $100 for the semester) fee. While inconvenient, they may receive a parking ticket or two.
However, once weekends such as Trinity Days, Thanksgiving, or Spring Break have passed, student parking becomes a free-for-all. Campus Safety no longer writes up tickets or tows cars without stickers parked at Trinity.
Freshmen disregard the regulations all together and start to bring their cars back with them. Even faculty members begin overflowing into student lots. Students bring their cars without registering because they know they can get away with it.
If the lot by their dorm is full, a few students create their own ‘spots’ and park directly behind dumpsters or double-park against the cars of strangers (by far the most irritating option), amongst other things. Aside from Campus Safety writing down notes, it doesn’t look as if anything is being done.
In the midst of this chaos, there seems to be only one, hard rule: if a student’s car is found parked in a faculty lot, it is almost certain to be towed immediately, without even a call from the school.
Granted, the school’s website does tell us that “Campus Safety will not make ‘courtesy calls’ to prevent a vehicle from towing…” when violating various regulations. This is understandable when the car is parked in a fire lane or handicapped spot, which is in obvious disregard for the law. But, after paying $200, is it really so hard to make a quick phone call, especially when, with the issuance of the parking permit, students provide their cell phone number?
There’s a very good chance that a student is within a 10 minute walk from where he or she has parked, and can move his/her car without the assistance of a $92 tow truck and a friend to help get it back. Personally, I have received a courtesy call from a Campus Safety officer before he called a tow truck for my car. Let me say, I have never appreciated being woken up in the middle of a nap more in my life.
I don’t think taking two minutes to call a student to move his or her car is so much to ask for, especially considering the price of retrieving it, as well as how much of a nuisance it is to do so.
The College is quick to point to the various student lots on campus in response to such problems. However, just about half of these lots are as far from student dorms, especially those located at the bottom of Vernon Street.
With so many questions about safety at Trinity coming up annually, as well as incidents of tire-slashing and stolen cars in campus lots, students find it increasingly difficult to leave their cars so far away from where there is the most activity on campus. On issues of student parking, students and Campus safety need to work out a compromise in order for any change to come about on campus.