Students were surprised when Public Safety issued 150 citations for illegal parking in Lot 8, the parking lot near the University Center (U.C.) on Monday, Nov. 3. The large number of citations, which makes up over half of the 290 total tickets given in that lot so far this semester, has alarmed many students. The reaction has spurred the Associated Students of NMU (ASNMU) to work cooperatively with Public Safety to find a compromise.
Of the cars that were ticketed, 128 were not registered on campus, said Patti Rizzio, NMU’s parking services coordinator. If a vehicle is not registered on campus, Public Safety can issue a citation which includes a $25 fine. Rizzio said that typically, Public Safety issues between 14,000 and 16,000 citations a year for various parking offenses.
According to Rizzio, students who received a citation that day for not having their vehicle registered had the option of going into Public Safety and having the citation excused if they registered their vehicle.
Purchasing a parking decal as proof of registration, for either an on-campus resident or commuter, is $130 for the year.
“When students, faculty or staff park on campus and they are not registered they are always given this option,” said Rizzio. “If they register, the first citation for not being registered is excused. We have found that issuing warnings does not get the point across, but a citation does.”
Despite the large number of tickets issued on Nov. 3, Rizzio said that there was no change in Public Safety’s policies or ticketing procedure.
“We ticket various lots throughout campus, and on this day we ticketed Lot 8,” she said. “We do not ticket [that lot] every day, nor do we always ticket any lot on a daily basis. We ticket randomly throughout campus on any given day.”
Rizzio said that there are underutilized lots, such as Lot 21, that students with registered vehicles can use without getting ticketed. However, Rizzio said that the best way for students to avoid being ticketed is to register their vehicles and educate themselves about where they can and cannot park.
According to Rizzio, a subcommittee of the Parking and Traffic Committee was formed recently to help address the issue of parking for student employees of the U.C.
“Currently, student employees are to park where their NMU parking permit authorizes them to park or in a general parking area,” said Rizzio.
Jessica Rice, a senior graphic communication major and employee of Dining Services, registered her vehicle on campus for her first three years on campus. Because she was working at the U.C., Rice was under the impression that she didn’t have to purchase a pass for the year. Rice registered her vehicle after being ticketed twice.
According to Rice, who has stopped parking in Lot 8, the main reason that she used the U.C. lot was because she had to have quick access to her vehicle for her job.
“With my job I run in and out a lot. I’m not just in the office the entire time. Sometimes I need to get somewhere quick,” she said.
Rice said that it is important for student employees to have access to parking in Lot 8 because some of the lots available to them are too distant.
“I might as well walk from my house.”
Rice said the price for registering a vehicle is steep for students, considering the current economy.
“It is tough to come up with the extra money. Students think that they can get one or two tickets, and it will be worth it. But now you can’t get around a ticket right now,” she said.
Rice said that greater communication between parking officials and students will result in a clearer understanding of where they can and cannot park.
“I hope that they can come to a solution on this topic. I just think that students don’t understand,” said Rice. “If they make it clear to students who can and can’t park there, students will be a lot more content with the issue.”
ASNMU has been in contact with Public Safety regarding the current parking situation, said Jason Morgan, junior and president of ASNMU.
“Public Safety contacted ASNMU [on Wednesday, Nov. 18] and expressed an interest in finding a solution that works for students and them,” said Morgan. “ASNMU looks forward to working with them.”
One idea that ASNMU has discussed is a parking pass for student employees who work in the U.C. According to Morgan, 47 of the 57 student employees at the Wildcat Den live off campus and have to commute to work.
Parking in Lot 8, which has a two hour limit for vehicles, has become common practice for students because it wasn’t consistently ticketed, said Morgan.
“I understand rules are rules, but I think students are facing a tough budget situation at this time, with the Promise Scholarship and tuition increasing. I think that needs to be taken into consideration when Public Safety decides to give 150 tickets or 150 warnings,” he said.
Morgan said that ASNMU will work harder to inform students of the appeal process, through which students can have a ticket revoked. ASNMU has been placing flyers on the windshields of cars in Lot 8, which detail the appeal process. Out of the 7,779 tickets that have been issued so far this year, approximately 1,000 have been excused.
“Some students receive three to four tickets on one day, and I don’t think that that is acceptable,” he said. “Students don’t often realize that one, there is an appeal process and two, a student sits on that committee and helps make that decision.”