It’s 7 a.m.: Do you know where your car is?

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It’s 7 a.m.: Do you know where your car is?

Caroline Fassett, Investigative News Editor

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Many sophomores, juniors, and seniors are fortunate enough to have cars at their disposal for daily transportation on- and off-campus. However, many of these students have encountered difficulties with on-campus parking regulations and have expressed dissatisfaction or incertitude with parking policies.

To park on campus, undergraduate students must pay for a parking permit, which costs $65 per semester or $100 per year; graduate students are only required to pay $35 per semester for permits. While the prices of tickets issued depends on the magnitude of the offense committed, most tickets circulated by Public Safety require a payment of $25, though this number varies.

Emilee Bae ’18 has received many parking tickets, and she holds partially accountable the lack of clarity concerning which parking spots are open to students and which lots are reserved exclusively for staff vehicles.

“They have this dinky little sign on one side of the row that doesn’t tell you in which direction the Staff Lot is … [the signs indicate] ‘lot 44 staff,’ but who knows where that lot starts and a student lot ends? There’s absolutely no designation between lots,” Bae said.

Chief Communications Officer Andy Hirsch stated that the University’s work in more clearly distinguishing between staff and student parking “is ongoing.”

“We’ll continue to take a close look at parking and related issues, such as signage that can help better identify lots and better direct individuals to additional parking around campus,” Hirsch said.

Bae added that she believed the University needed to create “more student parking spots” that are “in more convenient places.”

Hirsch asserted that the University regularly evaluates parking availability on campus, adding that a study conducted within the past few months “shows that there is ample parking to accommodate our students, faculty and staff.”

“We have more than 3,500 parking spaces across campus and typically see fewer than 2,400 vehicles at any given time. Even during times of peak usage, there are several hundred available spots around campus, [not accounting] for days or nights of major campus events” Hirsch said.

Still, many students have had their cars towed from on-campus parking spots for breaking various parking policies.

Throughout the year, cars are issued tickets for parking on streets on particular days during prohibited hours; for example, individuals cannot park on Market St. daily between midnight and 7 a.m., nor can they park on 7th street on Wednesdays between 7 a.m. and noon. But during leaf and snow removal seasons, vehicles are both ticketed and towed; students receive a $15 ticket—which, if not paid within 48 hours, doubles—to pay for these violations, and are obligated to pay an additional $85 to reclaim their vehicle from the local auto body shop.

Public Safety noted that, despite the onset of leaf removal season, the number of vehicles towed from on-campus locations has not increased.

Kat Pardoe ’18 said that her car was towed last year, and feels that she wasn’t given sufficient warning in advance to prevent this occurrence. She did acknowledge that there was a link posted in in the Message Center that informed students of the alteration in parking policies, though she didn’t come across it until after her car had been towed.

“I would’ve been so much more likely to move my car if I had [seen the link]… I think if [these notifications] were well advertised, students would be more likely to move their cars,” said Pardoe said.

An employee at Catherman’s Garage & Auto Body Shop, the auto repair shop hired by the Lewisburg Borough to tow for the Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department, spoke about the issue on the condition of retaining anonymity.

“It depends on the day, and it varies, but on average we see 3 to 4 [towed] student cars a day. Some days we’ll get as many as 10, and other days we’ll get none,” the employee said.

The employee expressed his sympathy for the students who arrive at the shop to reclaim their towed vehicles.

“We don’t like doing it, but we’re hired [by the Borough] to do it. Most students understand it, though. They understand that we’re just doing our job,” he explained.

Emily Brown ’18 had her vehicle towed after she parked her car on 7th Street and forgot to move it prior to Wednesday morning, on which day the street must be vacant for cleaning purposes.

“[W]hen I was walking back from class I realized that it was Wednesday and I never moved my car. It was gone, so I called the town and they told me it was the first day they started towing for leaf pick-up. Some of my other friends also forgot to move their cars prior to that and [they only received] a ticket and weren’t towed,” Brown said.

Brown added that she believed that it was justified that her car was towed.

“It just wasn’t fun, obviously. The signs are very clear about when not to park on St. George and 7th St.; I just completely forgot,” Brown said.

The vehicle of Callie Nelson ’17 was also towed from 7th Street several weeks ago.

“I had no idea where it was when I went to look for it the next morning, and I had a $15 ticket that needed to be paid within 2 days, but how am I supposed to do that plus pick up my car when I have a full class load and sports practice and no way to get to Catherman’s? I didn’t have time to go get it right away, and now I have a $30 ticket to pay on top of the $85 for getting towed,” said Nelson said.

Public Safety officials said that the change they believe would be most beneficial to the campus community is that of the mentality “that anyone at anytime should be able to park right next to the building where their class or office is located.”

“Fortunately, we live and work on a very walkable campus where available parking is rarely farther than a 10-minute walk,” a Public Safety official said.

Hirsch said that misperceptions regarding parking availability is likely predominantly derived from students who drive from their residence hall to class and attempt to park in the smaller lots that are closer to the academic core of campus.

“Given that those lots are smaller and tend to fill up faster, individuals wrongly draw the conclusion that there’s limited parking on campus. Fortunately, [the University] is very walkable … [w]e encourage students to keep that in mind when they decide it’s necessary to drive to class,” Hirsch said.

 

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