According to the Fredericksburg municipal code, UMW commuter students aren’t allowed to park on the streets surrounding campus.
Students are prohibited from parking anywhere from Stafford Ave. to Kenmore Ave. and Hanover St. to Grove Ave., meaning that if you commute to school, you have to buy a $200 parking pass or face the wrath of the Fredericksburg Police Department’s parking enforcement officer.
We’ve all seen the “No UMW Students” and “Resident Permit Required” signs that line certain streets around campus, but I, like many of my friends who also commute, always assumed that if there was no sign on the street, then there was no problem with me parking there.
I also figured that if I don’t have any UMW paraphernalia on my car, they have no way of knowing I’m a student and, therefore, no proof that I shouldn’t be parking there.
Given the three parking tickets I’ve accumulated in just as many months, it’s safe to assume I was wrong.
As we learned in various life-altering lectures during orientation week, the absence of a no does not automatically mean yes, just as the absence of signs prohibiting students from parking on various streets doesn’t mean we can park there.
If only the police were as good at preventing rape as they are at protecting the residents of Fredericksburg from students who park on their precious streets.
When I went to contest one of my tickets, the officer I spoke with told me how one gets awarded one of these lovely pink slips tucked beneath their windshield wipers.
Apparently residents who live on any of the previously mentioned streets can call the Fredericksburg police when they see someone who looks like a student parking his or her car and walking towards school.
The parking officer comes out and if there is nothing on the car indicating whether or not it belongs to a student, the officer calls the UMW police to see to whom the car is registered.
According to the ordinance, vehicles are prohibited from parking on the designated city streets if they are registered to a current UMW student or “a person residing at the same address as that of a person currently enrolled as a commuting student.”
I understand that the city has a duty to look out for its residents, but what about the students who live here nine months of the year?
We all know that the citizens of Fredericksburg aren’t generally too fond of the university students, but this kind of blatant discrimination seems unlawful.
How is it acceptable for an entire group of people to be banned from parking on city streets due to their enrollment status at a university?
Technically the city controls the streets, but I think everyone can agree that UMW plays a large role in this city. This isn’t an issue of entitlement, but, rather, equality.
Certainly I should follow the rules and hand over my money in exchange for a bright red sticker that allows me to park in one of the three small commuter lots around campus, but that seems about as wasteful as a $30,000 bookshelf.