Towed away: Is campus security staff over-zealous, or just doing its job?

A sign shows the consequences of parking in the wrong spot on campus. Some students complain that enforcement goes beyond what is needed and reasonable.

A sign shows the consequences of parking in the wrong spot on campus. Some students complain that enforcement goes beyond what is needed and reasonable.

It is a simple task, according to Wesley Booth, a 22-year-old senior criminal justice major from Pahrump, Nev. Just follow the rules and you won’t get ticketed.

Booth says he has never received a parking ticket from Norwich University in his four years attending the school because he “knows how to park in-between lines.”

There are a lot of others students whose experience has been very different, especially recently. Many students who live on campus have been complaining that security staff are handing out parking tickets and towing cars more than before, sometimes unnecessarily.

Tyler Scheppler, a 20-year-old junior criminal justice major from Lubbock, Texas, has received around five parking tickets in the last year since having a vehicle on campus. Most of the times he was “just parking in overnight parking and the bottom lot of Crawford,” he said.

Tim Harrington, 20, a sophomore communications major from Weymouth, Mass., has received three tickets and had his car towed once. Unfortunately for him, they all occurred for committing the same offense on the same occasion.

“I had parked my car in the civilian parking (commuters lot) and I forgot it was there. So they gave me my first ticket, which was understandable, but then they kept giving me a ticket every day without calling me, and then they finally towed my car and didn’t tell me where it was.”

Matt Riley, a 21-year-old junior accounting and business management major from Williamstown, Mass., recently received a ticket for what he calls a ridiculous reason. “I had like, a tire on the grass, and I got a ticket.”

Riley pointed out that as he was leaving the parking lot he saw a car parked on the hill with a similar violation – and they didn’t have a parking ticket.

Those who grumble about tickets, simply need to follow the rules, said David Magida, chief administrative officer at the university. “It is not our desire or pleasure to give tickets. Rather, we simply want and expect compliance with published policies,” he said. Considering the situation with parking at Norwich, regulations are needed.

“Students who do not follow these policies will, quite literally, have to pay the consequences,” he said.

Students who commute face similar issues with receiving tickets as those on campus.

Liz Chapdelanie, a 21-year-old senior biology major from Somerset, Mass., has received two parking tickets and been towed once in her time at Norwich. The most recent ticket and tow occurred when she “was parked up at Jackman (Hall) during mid-semester break.”

“I was a little upset especially because I had to stay here because I play lacrosse so I couldn’t go home and I was up on the UP and I came back and my car was towed and they didn’t tell me where they towed it.”

Shane Gorman, a 22-year-old senior communications major from Trumbull, Conn., got out of being towed once but still ended up paying the large fine.

“I was parked over by Plumley I believe, and someone came into the classroom and said I was being towed, so I ran down there and I stopped my car from getting towed but I had still had to pay for the tow.”

Whether it’s commuter or on-campus students, the costs mount up for tickets and the expense of being towed. The typical cost of a ticket is usually $30, explained Kevin Thibault, a 21-year-old junior business management major from Cumberland Center, Maine.

This differs from the price of parking tickets issued by the town of Northfield, said Nicolette Gosselin, a 21-year-old junior communications major from Barre, Vt.

Tickets issued by the town are only $10, she said.

Students face different charges for the cost of being towed. In Gorman’s situation he had to pay $90, while Chapdelanie had to pay $80.

Magida said the fines go to good use. “Every penny we take in from vehicle registrations, tickets and fines goes directly to the repair and maintenance of roads and parking lots. But, it’s important to understand…we would rather not take in a penny in tickets or fines. We would rather have full compliance,” he said.

Typically when cars are towed they are moved to either the South, D or C lot, according to Chapdelanie, who believes the price of being towed is pretty “ridiculous,” noting that cars are not being moved very far.

Once you receive a ticket or are towed the price “goes on your student account, so you don’t end up paying for it immediately” said Ian Carlson, a 21-year-old senior political science major from Assonet, Mass.

Many students, such as Scheppler, are unaware that there is an appeal process. That is not the case with Riley, who challenged his most recent ticket he received.

“I had to fill out some paperwork saying that I didn’t agree with it, and I showed them pictures of people parked on the grass with no tickets.”

Though security told him they were going to review his ticket, he has not yet heard back.

Just like the prices vary, so do students reasoning for where they park. Chris Watson, a 22-year-old senior engineer management major from Hartford, Conn., got a parking ticket because there were no other places to park his car one weekend.

“I parked in the athletic training parking spaces for the weekend and got a parking ticket,” he explained. Watson did acknowledge that “there are signs there that say you shouldn’t park there. He added, “I think the tickets are ridiculously expensive.”

According to Magida, “If you park where you should not you are always susceptible to getting a ticket. The fact that you may have been improperly parked one time and not received a ticket is just because we didn’t get there at that time. You were still wrong.”

Unlike many of her fellow commuting students, Gosselin has the responsibility of driving two of her roommates to school everyday.

“I was late to school because I have two other roommates who I bring to class and usually I drop them off because one of them had a hard time walking.” “By the time I got to school there was no places in the areas where I am allowed to park so I apparently parked into the faculty parking for maybe an hour and I came out and I got ticketed.”

Gosselin and Chapdelanie both agreed that in some situations it would almost be more convenient to walk to school than deal with the challenge of finding a parking spot and risking getting another ticket.

However, the only aspect deterring Gosselin from doing so is that there are no sidewalks on the main road.

In order to combat the lack of parking spaces, Scheppler believes that the university should fix the student parking lots and potentially invest in building a parking garage to fit the needs of the students. However, he acknowledges that this can’t just happen over night.

Some students are quick to question the motivations of security staff when they ticket parked cars. “I feel like a lot of students just think they walk around trying to find people to take money,” suggested Thibault.

Others, such as Carlson, question the time that some of the tickets are issued. “I think their timing is interesting, I know a lot of people get them at like 4:30 (a.m.) in the morning, which really doesn’t give you any opportunity to move your vehicle.”

However Gosselin, for one, does not agree with Thibault and Carlson. “I think security does a great job,” she said.

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