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ISSUE 121 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/21/2008

Parking misconceptions investigated

By Ellen Weaver
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 21, 2008

"The biggest problems with parking are misconceptions and rumors," said parking coordinator Donna Hunter.

As a residential college where pedestrians always have the right of way, St. Olaf simply doesn't have enough space to accommodate every student parking on campus. This often causes many complaints and much frustration.

"Parking is limited on the upper campus," Hunter said. Parking lots such as Buntrock, as well as spaces by Holland Hall, and the Administration Building are reserved for faculty, staff and visitors, while J lot and I lot near Skogland are reserved mostly for student permits.

"When people park illegally," Hunter said, "it limits that parking even more."

Public Safety dispatcher Katie Gunderson '11 agrees. "[Students think that] it won't hurt to take an open spot closer to your dorm for one night," Gunderson said. "Most people on campus don't quite realize how limited the parking here is."

Students can arrange to park temporarily on campus by calling public safety to be put on the "No Ticket/No Tow" list. However, that only ensures a parking spot for 24 hours. After no further arrangements have been made, or if no arrangements have been made at all, students run the risk of being ticketed.

"I find that some students think that there's not ticketing on the weekends." Public Safety dispatcher Mish Pease '08 said. "Technically, if you're not where you're permitted to park, you can be ticketed. Anytime, day or night."

Many students complain about the uncertainty of tickets and the ticketing procedures. "Ticketing is not a priority for Public Safety," Hunter said. "Officers ticket when they have time. There is no quota that officers have to meet; it just depends on how many cars are parked illegally and how much time they have. Tickets aren't any higher right now then they have been in the past. It all just depends."

If a student has been ticketed, they have seven days to file an appeal with the parking office. "After a student makes an appeal, it gets passed on to a committee of eight St. Olaf students," Hunter said. "They meet together, read through the appeals and it is all up to their discretion on what tickets get appealed." The committee takes into consideration the information provided on the ticket, such as time of issuance, location and type of permit the student has. They also consider the reasoning and statement the student gives about the ticket.

All appeals must go through this process. "Often upset students call [Public Safety] about parking tickets," said Pease, "and while [dispatchers] can put them in contact with a public safety officer, there's nothing [Public Safety] can do about tickets. Issues with parking tickets should be taken up with the parking office."

A student committee also has input in developing parking policies. Every three to four years, staff, faculty, students and administrators discuss parking policies, problems and future projects regarding parking.

Right now, there are no changes being considered to parking policy. Even with the construction projects occupying some of the parking spaces, the parking office still has spaces available. If students with permits have trouble finding spots, that is only because there are cars parked illegally. The Parking Office ensures that they never oversell parking permits.

After spring break, the senior wait-list will be available for seniors to apply for parking permits. Also, early bird applications for next year start on April 15.

"If students ever have any questions about parking, they need to contact the office or a Public Safety officer," encourages Hunter.

Students can read through all the motor vehicle policies online at vehicle.html.

Hunter strongly urges communication in order to dispel parking rumors. "Students don't realize that the parking policies are in effect 365 days a year."

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