Parking. It's a situation almost every college student has to deal with, even if it's secondhand. The fact that UT has a lack of parking isn't a secret by any means. Everyone knows that the number of spots on campus is limited and that the ratio of spots to the number of passes is also limited, to the tune of 1.85 for commuters and 1.2 for non-commuters.
However, this is the case at most every university. This is not to condone the practice, but to merely suggest that UT isn't any more at fault than any other university.
However, there are other areas where I feel that Parking Services has begun to drop the ball, namely ticketing. I will begin by pointing out the fact that Parking Services currently uses a private source for the actual ticketing of vehicles. Personally, I think this was a step in the right direction as it frees UTPD officers from the rather mundane practice of ticketing and allows them to focus on more important duties, such as keeping people on campus safe.
I have no problem with the act of ticketing illegally parked cars on campus. I live off campus and bike to and from class daily, but on rare occasions, I do drive to campus. Now, I have received a number of tickets that I have had no qualms with. I took a chance by parking illegally, I was caught and I deserve to be ticketed. However, a recent event has changed my opinion of the way Parking Services handles questionable tickets.
Two weeks ago, I was required to turn in forms for the rugby club to the Sports Club offices. I decided to swing by the TRECS before running a number of other errands on Friday afternoon. Now, by the time I arrived to the parking lot outside the TRECS, the lot was almost dead. Students had left the gym to attend to more important Friday afternoon duties (probably tanning or doing laundry) and just a few faculty vehicles remained parked in the lot.
I went into the offices, turned in my forms and returned to my vehicle to witness a parking attendant entering information into his ticketing device. I approached the man and told him the situation and that I was leaving. I was met with only the response, "Don't matter, kid. Bad luck for you."
Now, at this point a lesser person would have exploded into a fit of rage. I considered doing so myself but thought it better to keep my cool and deal with the matter in a more diplomatic manner. After all, I was taking care of official business and was only in the spot for two minutes. Also, my use of one parking space would not have prevented anyone from finding parking in the mostly empty lot. So I jumped on the Parking Services website after I got home and found that I could make an in-person appeal of my ticket by appointment.
However, when I called Parking Services I was met with a different story. I was told that in-person appeals were no longer conducted and that I was limited to only submitting a written appeal online. I can understand that Parking Services would want to streamline their processes, but by taking away the chance to plead a person's case in front of a reasonable individual, you are now instead required to type up a brief message to get your point across. I did so and was quickly met with an appeal denial, the type of which could only be automatically generated as it mentioned nothing of the situation at hand and only said I needed to get a parking pass if I wanted to park on campus.
As a friend of mine said, "In a system allegedly designed to promote justice and consequences for wrongdoers and wrongdoers ONLY, Parking Services has gradually grown more and more comfortable making revenue their one and only goal."
Had the parking attendant assessed the situation when I came out to my car, I could have avoided the situation entirely. Unfortunately, he is taught only to write tickets no matter the circumstances. The ticketing office probably sees situations like this daily. However, it has little accountability when it simply declines appeals through an e-mail.
There isn't anything I can do at this point except pay the ticket, which is what I will do as I'd really like to get grades at the end of the semester. I'm sure a number of you out there have had to deal with similar situations on campus. In the real world, if you receive a ticket, you can appear before a hearing to discuss the issue. I can't imagine that in-person appeals really cause a serious backup for Parking Services, so I would like to see the process brought back. After all, isn't college supposed to prepare us for the real world both in and outside the classroom?
—George Richardson is a senior in electrical engineering. He can be reached at email@example.com.