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The Blue & Gray Press | February 22, 2018

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Students Report Difficulties with Parking on Campus

The towing policies at the University of Mary Washington have some students feeling confused about where they are allowed to park their cars and frustrated by the perceived hassle over retrieving their cars after they are towed.

Sophomores Andrew Hill and Chelsea Raitor were towed from the Eagle Village parking garage earlier this year.

Hill explained that he was parked in a handicap spot on the first floor, but he was towed from it because the first floor is reserved for restaurant patrons.

He was under the impression that cars with handicap passes wouldn’t be towed from handicap spots.

However, Shanks Towing owner, Michael Croke, said that since the pass was temporary and the Eagle Village parking garage is privately owned, Hill was towed for a legitimate reason.

Raitor was not informed that her car had been towed from the garage, but found out when it was no longer in the spot where she left it. She feels that students who are towed should at least be notified of the incident.

“It’s unreasonable to be charged an extra amount for parking when students are already paying over $500 for a parking pass, and were given unclear directions as to where parking is permitted,” Raitor said.

Hill said it seems that towing incidents have increased substantially in the past year.

“I didn’t even hear about people getting towed that much at all last year,” Hill said.

Junior, Catherine Jones and Raitor agree that they have heard about more students getting towed this year.

However, Parking Management Supervisor David Sing and Croke say that this is not the case.

According to Croke, who only tows out of the Eagle Village parking garage, the current towing policy is less stringent than last year’s.

“I urge that the students take advantage of the resources they have regarding parking policies,” Croke advised.

According to Croke, those resources are readily available online.

Croke declined to share the statistics for the incidents of students getting towed between the years, but says there is no noticeable change in his numbers.

According to Sing, who deals with student towing everywhere on campus except for the Eagle Village parking garage, only two students have been towed in his jurisdiction this year.

Sing believes that there is adequate parking available on campus for the number of students registered, although some people choose not to register their cars and park in student spots anyway.

Sing acknowledged that parking on campus is currently an issue, especially with the construction along College Avenue that cuts into parking for students.

However, Sing is hopeful that the situation will improve soon.

“I would probably say that you’re going to see some major changes coming up in the near future,” Sing said.

According to Jones, who lives in Eagle Landing, a resident advisor incorrectly told her that she could park anywhere in the Eagle Village parking garage as long as her temporary parking pass was visible on the dashboard.

Jones was subsequently towed after parking on the third floor of the garage, and forced to retrieve her car from the Shanks Towing lot.

According to Jones, she was belittled and yelled at by an employee of Shanks Towing for not bringing exact change to pay for the towing.

“If whoever was responsible for hiring the towing company picked a company that was more reasonable and polite, these situations wouldn’t be so awful for the students who have their cars towed,” Jones said.

In response to Jones’ experience, Croke said, “I take all complaints regarding customer service extremely severely. While I find it difficult to believe that any one of my staff members would speak to a customer with such disrespect I would like the opportunity to look into the matter.”

He explained that the school is considering building additional parking decks and opening up the student parking areas to a first-come, first-serve basis.