Throughout my five years at NC State, I have had many bones to pick with the NC State Department of Transportation. I was mistakenly under the impression that this article was the perfect way for me to criticize the parking system on campus.
I have personally received over 12 parking tickets AND a boot from the NC State’s transportation department. This sounds and definitely feels like an abuse of power. I question the ethics of our university’s citation system. Most importantly, who has the audacity to place a boot on the car of a student who is simply trying to be a scholar and attend their classes? This question will likely resonate with a large community of students on and off campus. My own history with our transportation system has driven me past my breaking point and I needed to find answers.
At the end of the 2023 Spring semester, I was very happy to see I am not the only student interested in the parking problem. Aidan Carlson, a correspondent for Technician, wrote an article titled, “Parking Ticket Money: Where Does It Go?” In this article, Carlson addresses the misconceptions of citation revenue and how NC State’s Transportation division does not benefit from giving out parking citations. When reading Carlson’s article, I felt a slight change of heart as I came to find “the department is only allowed to keep 20% of the money [citation revenue], while the rest goes to the State Public School Fund.” This could, potentially, change how students perceive NC State Transportation, especially for those who frequently receive parking citations.
The fact that parking violations could potentially contribute to the advancement of public schools is more comforting than the idea that NC State is finding new ways to take student’s money. I was even more intrigued to find out that the Assistant Director of Finance for NC State Transportation, Holt Craven, stated the department “actually loses money by enforcing [parking].” This partially reignited the fire that I felt against this system. Although I understand that NC State has to enforce parking, it is still frustrating that students are forced to pay parking tickets because they parked in the wrong lots or overextended their stay by one minute? Especially when they receive little to no benefit from doing so. According to Mr. Craven, parking is heavily enforced in an effort “to protect customers.” Understandably so, students who pay for parking permits and passes throughout the semester should not have to face the same risks and consequences as those who do not. They should be protected. But to what extent should we penalize the students who don’t have passes?
This led me to think about the potential of many students not being able to afford parking permits, especially as the costs of parking permits steadily increases. Our population at NC State has been growing immensely over the years, as we welcomed 5,601 first year students in this fall semester alone. University Communications reported that this new class is not only the largest first-year class in our university’s history, but also the most diverse first-year class. As our student population diversifies, there is a need to provide more diverse accommodations for students so that all physical needs can be met. The pay lot system has provided a good alternative for commuters and visitors, but how can our Transportation Department work to provide better solutions for students who may not have the financial capabilities to purchase a semester parking permit?
Working towards more diverse solutions, such as having more parking decks that are closer to campus, would propel our university towards better protection for our student population. It would also be nice if students were protected from the inconveniences of parking citations, financial insecurities and additional stress that comes with the yellow boot. The last thing that we, as students, should worry about is losing access to our vehicles due to unpaid parking tickets. When my 2016 Kia Forte, KC, received her first ever boot in the North Hall “B” Area lot, I almost lost my will to live. After a long day, I came out of Caldwell Hall hoping to de-stress by treating myself to a Chick-fil-A spicy sandwich meal and a large Oreo milkshake. Instead, I faced the dark reality of having my car booted and a large bright orange sticker on my driver’s window, as if the boot didn’t make my violations clear enough. That day, I received two tickets, and one of them was for backing into the parking space. Absurd? I think so. I am perfectly okay with accepting accountability for my violation of parking in a permitted-lot but what are we accomplishing by penalizing our students to this extent?
NC State’s Transportation Department manages an inventory of about 20,000 parking spaces between both North and Centennial Campus. This sounds like plenty of space, doesn’t it? It did initially, but then I had to consider the 38,000 students and 9,000 faculty and staff members that live and work at NC State. Although not every affiliate with NC State needs a parking space, there is surely a need for regulation.
This is not an article advocating for the riddance of parking citations as a whole. But rather, a call to adjust our regulations in order to assist our university’s faculty, staff and students. The growing population in Raleigh has a direct impact on campus resources. More specifically, it has direct implications for our campus transportation system as a whole. NC State Transportation has provided easy and accessible benefits to campus life that we see every day with the Wolfline. This bus system alone provides our community with easily accessible opportunities to navigate the lengths of Campus.
As a public university, federally subsidized by the state of North Carolina, it is of the utmost importance that we protect and serve our growing community. We must reflect on the ways that we regulate this ‘Parking Problem’ to ensure that we protect our students from unnecessary hurdles.