Parking rules sacrifice campus safety over profit

Photo courtesy of Allie Ghisson, Student Publications

Nearly everyone I have met here has a horror story about the Department of Parking and Transportation at Tech. Between the outrageous parking permit prices and always unwelcome parking tickets, PTS seems to be one of the most hated offices we can’t live without. 

To be clear, I am not talking about the entirety of the Parking and Transportation department. The bus and stingerette drivers who get me from point A to point B are all saints in my book, especially the midnight rambler driver who plays jazz through the bus speakers. My source of frustration is with the seemingly elusive goblins who deliver envelopes to my windshield without ever
leaving a trace. 

I remember the first day of FASET, where the nice friendly neighborhood GTPD officers came to ensure us that they aren’t out to get us in trouble. They stressed that safety is allegedly one of the number one priorities at the Institute, so why is the Parking and Transportation department so predatory in punishing students attempting to navigate life at Tech in a safer way?

Imagine this. Your friend who has a parking permit in the North Avenue South deck is completely plastered at an off campus party. They’ve downed  half a pack of Natty Light and can’t even walk straight. You, being completely sober and wanting to do the right thing, help lug your friend into the back seat of your car, praying they can keep from throwing up on your newly detailed
leather seats. 

You first pull into the North Avenue turnaround, and the limited pay to park spots are all taken up because it’s the weekend and everyone is visiting their boos and bootycalls. Your friend, waking up from their drunken nap throws you their wallet and instructs you to just park in the South deck before falling back into
their peaceful slump. 

After throwing their buzzcard to the sensor and pulling in, you realize this isn’t just going to be a simple drop off and drive away job. You want to ensure your friend who you care about very much gets into their apartment and into bed safely, so you illegally park in the deck. 

Throwing your friend over your shoulders, you try to work fast, attempting to get back to your car before the ticket gremlin has a chance to strike. You leave your friend carefully tucked in with a trash can, a glass of water and two Advils on their bedside, just like all your AlcoholEdu education taught you. There’s barely any time to revel in your work as the night’s sober samaritan before you notice the fifty dollar fine placed under your windshield wipers. Now that you’re fifty dollars in the hole, you may be regretting helping your friend, but just know that in reality, parking services failed you. 

This is just one of the many hypothetical situations students face when trying to navigate the parking situation on Tech’s campus, but the parking patrol, especially in the North Avenue South deck, has made it even harder to safely travel about campus. 

The first weekend of Spring semester, when parking knew students would be buzzing in visitors to relax after a hard week back at school, tickets littered the parking lot. Whether you parked there for 10 minutes or 10 hours, the fairy zipped in and out, leaving her magical money grabbers behind. They definitely were intentionally targeting students who would be buzzing in friends for short periods of time during the busy nights. Because of this, I have lost all respect for the employees that spend their time making the rounds and stealing money from the already struggling student body. 

Parking and Transportation could create more pay for parking spaces near the North Avenue apartments, or they could put a pause on fining students for parking in the decks for incredibly short periods of time. Will they do this? Most likely not, because the fifty dollars they gain every time a student parks in the deck in a time of desperation lines the pockets of somebody. You would think the employees are working on commission with the seemingly increased frequency of students getting caught for deck drop ins. 

There’s many issues with parking on Tech’s campus, but as someone who has seen people fined for a situation similar to the one I described before, these predatory practices totally negate the opinion that safety is the number one priority. 

Of course, there’s always security issues with allowing in people who do not have a permit to park in the deck, but the likelihood of someone with a permit buzzing in someone who does not have semi-lawful business being there is unlikely. If it is taught in programs like AlcoholEDU that we should do everything in our power to help our fellow students get home safely, why are we being punished for doing so? 

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think that car owners without a permit shouldn’t be allowed to sit their car in the deck for days on end, but I would not mind if a student has to be buzzed in for a couple minutes to unload some heavy groceries into their apartment or has to take care of a friend for a couple hours or just simply wants to spend a responsible night in with their across campus friends. 

Things happen, and we shouldn’t be punished so harshly for reaching out for help and getting a friend to buzz us in. 

Parking and Transportation may think we are purposely parking in the wrong areas to spite them or to defy authority, but most of the time it comes down to helping a friend in a dire situation and risking getting a fine for it. 

The large fines we have to face feel like a big “F You” from the Institute we already pay thousands of dollars to attend. In order to improve their reputation, PTS should consider the real life situations faced by the student body and consider making policy changes that would reflect the supposed standard of student safety Tech preaches.