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The Blue & Gray Press | October 22, 2017

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Did you know cars without decals get ticketed on College Ave? Neither did these commuters

Did you know cars without decals get ticketed on College Ave? Neither did these commuters

By REBECCA MELSON

For more than a year now, I have commuted over an hour to attend classes at the University of Mary Washington. I have driven in extremely bad weather. I even make myself drive when I would rather sleep in. Why? Because the education that is offered at UMW is superior, encouraging critical thought and inspiring the next generation to be of a democratic and liberating mind. I was surprised when I found out first-hand how strict some parts of the university are.

A couple of weeks ago, while walking to my car, I was confronted with that reality. I had received a ticket for not renewing my parking permit, even though I was parked on College Avenue, a public street. I was surprised to find the ticket, but I was even more surprised to find out that it was $100.

I assumed that College Avenue was safe. It is a public street and does not have any signs that suggest only those with permits can park there.

Amongst the confusion of my parking on a public street, I disputed the ticket. Promptly, my dispute was declined. It is stated deep within the website that in fact, students must have a current permit to park on College Ave, a public street where they may have to compete with non-students for a space.

I do not mind following rules, but it may be fair to state that some of the rules of parking are a bit vague. Take for example the September Blue & Gray Press article by Caitlyn Williams “UMW Students Towed from Unmarked Parking.”

The article discusses the 28 students that were towed from unmarked parking spots as they were moving in. Students who probably would not have been towed at all if proper signs were in place.

Even more jarring is the amount of the ticket. $100 is not a light amount when one is a full-time college student. I went in to see about just paying the amount of the new decal, while thinking that the $100 would go away, but it did not. I had waited more than 24 hours, due to disputing the ticket, and was abruptly told that I should have known and thoroughly read the website.

Senior geography major, David Blount, was fined with two $100 tickets within a two-week period while on College Avenue, one of which he was not aware of due to the ticket not being properly placed on his car. The heavy penalty could not be disputed, and he also was told he should have known.

“I was under the impression, because it is public parking on College Avenue, that as long as I could find a spot and leave in plenty of time, it’s not going to be an issue,” Blount said. “Come to find out it is an issue, a $100 issue.” Blount goes on to state that the parking system in place is “very outdated, and at the very least, under advertised. We do not find out that it’s a problem, until it’s a problem.”

Some students will avoid the parking system altogether.

Aaron Robeson, junior business leadership and management major, has opted not to pay for the decal, but walks more than a mile to school instead. Robeson takes an interesting and fresh look on UMW parking dilemma as well.

“I think it is strange that there is no incentive to have fuel efficient vehicles, especially how forward thinking and environmentally friendly the university tries to be,” Robeson said. This sort of innovation seems to me reflective of a UMW education, and changes such as these, that move us in a more cooperative and productive reality, should be contemplated.

The financial amount of the problem is what I would define as oppressive. The vagueness of where students can park, mixed with the confusion of College Avenue being a public street and the $100 penalty for getting out of line, can be jarring for a UMW student.

As Michel Foucault states in his book, Discipline and Punishment, “There was too much power in the lower jurisdictions, which could – aided by the ignorance and poverty of those convicted — ignore appeal procedure and carry out arbitrary sentences without adequate supervision; there  was too much power on the side of the prosecution, which possessed almost unlimited means of pursuing its investigations, while the accused opposed it virtually unarmed.”