CAMPUS SAFETY CRACKS DOWN ON PARKING

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MATTHEW STOFFEL

mtstoffel11@ole.augie.edu

 

Augustana students have one less vehicle to compete with for parking.

On March 23, the Sunday after spring break, sophomore Ian Curtis forgot to move his car from the Stavig circle. About two weeks later, he handed the title of the car over to Jim and Ron’s Service Inc.

Curtis had received several tickets during the fall semester for parking in the Edith Mortenson Center lot after midnight.

“I did that multiple times in a row because there were multiple projects I had to stay up all night for,” Curtis said.

Curtis didn’t actively seek more information on parking from Campus Safety as a result of these tickets.

“It was just as easy not to park in that lot as it was to talk to them.”

During January, Curtis was on tour as a cast member in the theatre department’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and arranged to leave his car on campus in similar fashion to students studying abroad over interim.

“When we got back from tour they put the tow sticker on because I left it the night after we returned,” Curtis said.

 

Five tickets, then towed

Campus Safety puts a green sticker on cars with repeat parking infractions to designate that another violation will see the vehicle towed.

“After three citations in an academic year, citations double,” director of Campus Safety Rick Tupper said. “After five tickets you’ll get a note or email. Next violation you get a green decal.”

Curtis, however, believes this was his fifth violation. He said he received an email from Campus Safety informing him of the sticker. His impression was that Campus Safety had never tried to contact him previously because he didn’t have any campus parking pass and wasn’t on record.

“We maintain a registry of everyone who has had a permit on campus,” Tupper said.

However, Campus Safety also runs license plates through the state of South Dakota or whatever state the vehicle is registered with. License plate numbers are public record.

Curtis didn’t think a parking pass was necessary because he could simply park off campus and convenient lots were usually filled anyway.

“It was just another expense that I didn’t want to add to my bill,” he said.

 

Towed away

After January, Curtis avoided campus lots entirely. But with the green sticker, it only took one more mistake to have his car towed.

The weekend after spring break, Curtis had gone home to visit his family. He parked in the circle drive of Stavig hall to unload his car and forgot to move it afterwards.

According to Curtis, it was several days before he needed the car again. He couldn’t remember where he parked and searched a half hour before realizing it had been towed.

“They didn’t email me or notify me that they had towed it off the campus,” Curtis said.

Tupper said this is Campus Safety policy.

“At that point we don’t notify them again,” he said. “At that point the car’s towed.”

Tupper said the next interaction is usually when students come to ask where their car was moved.

“I went to the campus safety office and they had a lot of trouble finding any record of it being towed,” Curtis said. “Eventually they called the company and asked for the license plate, and they told them that it was there.”

The impound lot used by Campus Safety is run by Jim and Ron’s Service Inc. According to Tupper, they’ve been reliable and available.

“Nothing’s close to us here, for a tow company,” Tupper said. “I think they’re located on the northwest side of town.”

The impound lot is located five miles from Augustana, on the other side of the arena. Walking there from Augustana would take one hour and 33 minutes, according to Google Maps.

According to Paul Giese, the owner of Jim and Ron’s, the company has worked with Augustana since before Tupper took over as Campus Safety director ten years ago.

Giese said that while towing is a service they offer, it’s not an ideal situation to be involved in.

“When you impound vehicles it is never a good thing,” Giese said. “As a professional business, if we don’t do it, other businesses will.”

 

Impounded

After learning the car had already been impounded several days, Curtis didn’t hurry to retrieve his car. He wouldn’t receive a paycheck until the following Thursday, April 3. But then he learned that the fee at Jim and Ron’s increases with time.

The initial fee at Jim and Ron’s for retrieving an impounded vehicle is $97.50. After that, it goes up $25 each day.

“We just do what we’re told to do by Rick,” Giese said.

“By the time that I got there it had built up to $500,” said Curtis.

When Curtis realized the fee was already increasing past what he’d be able to pay, he contacted his family and asked for help, but at the time they also couldn’t afford the cost.

“It would have still gone up,” Curtis said. “We had to act fast and hand over the title for the car.”

Curtis admitted the violations were his own mistakes, but regrets losing his car for parking infractions.

“I was definitely at fault,” he said. “But it just sucks that it was the final straw and it was something so minor. I wish they would have just called me.”

 

Appeal process exists for students’ tickets

Any ticket students receive from Campus Safety can be appealed to a student review board, known as the parking appeals committee.

“I think it’s great that we have this system where students who could also be recipients of tickets reviewing the requests on an anonymous basis,” said ASA president Matt Anderson.

The parking appeals committee is made up of three or four students appointed by the ASA president with some input from Rick Tupper, director of Campus Safety, and dean of students Jim Bies The committee can uphold tickets, reduce fees by half or entirely nullify citations.

The group of students meets two to four times a semester, as needed. They retrieve appeals from Campus Safety, review them and issue their decisions.

Senior Jesse Fonkert has been an ASA senator for the last two years. In that time he has also served on the parking appeals committee.

“At the beginning of the year Tupper meets with us and explains how everything is set up,” Fonkert said. From then on, the committee is student-run.

Appeals come to the committee without names, but Campus Safety may sometimes include photographs of how the student was parked or a note on prior violations by the individual. The committee can also see what year is listed in a student’s email address.

The students on the committee choose whether or not to inform other people that they review appeals.

Campus Safety does not challenge or override the decisions of the appeal board.

“It’s certainly worked well in the sense that it gives the students the outlet to complain,” Tupper said.

Tupper sees the appeal board as a means to gauge whether anything about parking regulations needs to be changed or clarified.

So far this year, he said nothing evidently needs to be changed.