Little fines add up to big bucks over time

Williams College is a nice enough place to spend four years of your life, provided you follow the rules. If you don’t, your $34,000 tuition bill could be increased significantly in a matter of moments. Small fees and fines abound here and incurring the wrath of these small penalties could mean shelling out big bucks to make up for your blunder.

The most insidious fines incurred by students are parking tickets. Anyone who frequents Goodrich has seen cars parked in the horseshoe with bright red pieces of paper stuck in their driver’s side windows. No, these cars have not been marked out as needing an extra decal proclaiming their possession by a Williams family or student; they have been tagged by Security for violating parking regulations.

According to Assistant Director of Security Dave Boyer, about 6,000 tickets have been distributed by Security officers this year. Parking fines can range from warnings – which cost nothing – to tickets of $115. Students are allowed two warnings before tickets start carrying a price tag. Depending on your parking violation, the minimum price of a ticket can be $5; the highest price is $25. Unpaid parking tickets can prevent you from registering for classes or from receiving your diploma. If you incur 14 tickets over the year, your parking and vehicle operating privileges are suspended. Security has suspended 25 vehicles this year.

Although Goodrich might seem like a prime area for parking violations, Boyer said that the most tickets are written for cars parked in the Baxter and Chapin Hall area. He also notes that students who drive to classes receive the most tickets, since students are not allowed to park in faculty parking spaces until after 6 p.m. Boyer noted that this is necessary because there is not even enough parking for faculty members at times. A violation of this regulation will cost $25.

Students are obviously undaunted by the hassles of parking at Williams. During the first 24 hours of the online vehicle registration Security offered this spring, 450 cars were registered. There are a total of 620 spaces available on campus for student parking. Boyer expects the remaining 170 spaces will be filled by the end of September.

Parking regulations on Williams campus can be found in the section titled “Vehicle Parking Regulations” on page 179 of the Student Handbook. This section lists places where students may and may not park, at what hours they may park there, and the price that goes along with forgetting those regulations. In addition to this handy information is a list of lesser evils that one can commit with a car on campus. These include “driving or parking on grass area,” and “driving in Hopkins Forest.” Violating any of these regulations will cost an automatic $25.

Parking at Williams can be an expensive proposition, but the fines and fees do not stop with cars. Those little green package slips cost 25 cents if lost. Though it is not a substantial fee, it is nonetheless annoying for the chronic loser (of small items, that is). Fortunately, according to Betty Belding, who runs the mailroom in Baxter Hall, students have been showing improvement. “Kids have been more responsible about holding onto the package slips this year than in previous years,” she said.

Staying in town over the summer? Students who do not sign up to keep their SU boxes by May 30th will be paying a $25 charge. Waiting any longer than a week after graduation to sign up will cause the mail to be sent to students’ home addresses, and no exceptions will be made. Belding notes that the mailroom does its best to advertise the deadline for summer SU boxes, but sometimes people just do not pay attention to the notices. “We have to set some sort of a deadline for SU boxes, or people just keep straggling in,” she said.

One of the more frequent fines at Williams is the $5 room-unlocking fee. Security will bail students out once if they lock themselves out of their rooms, but after that the cost is $5. Losing a room key will cost $25 – since Buildings and Grounds has to replace the key as well as the lock. Failing to return room keys at the end of the school year will mean $75 more to Buildings and Grounds. None of these fines are refundable.

Dorm life has other possible fines. Dismissal, withdrawal, or resignation from Williams means 48 hours to pack up and remove everything from one’s room. Failure to do so will mean a charge of $50 per day. Students who are not out of their rooms by the set time before a break starts will also be charged $50 for every day past the vacating deadline.

There are other ways to incur fines besides parking in the wrong place or forgetting a package slip – the Fire Safety Codes. Included in the student handbook on page 144 is a list of items students may not have in their rooms. Should the Fire Marshall, during routine inspection of smoke detectors during winter and spring breaks, happen to see any of the items on the list lying around in plain view, a fine of $50 per item will be incurred. In addition, the offending item will be confiscated and either donated to a local charity or discarded. Tampering with fire safety equipment, which includes smoke detectors and the automatic door closers, carries a fine of $50 plus the cost of replacing the item.

Students who plan to bring any domestic animals to campus should not plan to keep them in their rooms: the only pets allowed as a part of dorm life are fish. There is a $50 fine for having a pet other than fish in a room, and an extra $50 is added for every day the animal stays in the room after notification that it must be removed.

Now for The Card. Not the American Express card, but your Eph card. Students would be wise not to leave home without it. Trying to get into a meal without your Eph Card is close to impossible; forgetful students will have to pay a $3 charge. Replacing the card costs $10. In related subjects, tampering with a card reader could cost you $50.

Registration is mandatory for both cars and bicycles, and it is not free (at least not entirely). Registering a car costs $60 for students who plan to keep it on campus. Off-campus cars must still be registered, but there is no charge. Getting caught with an unregistered car will cost an extra $15. Bicycle registration, which is required by town ordinance, costs 25 cents. While those 25 cents probably will not make or break a student, it is yet another of the minor fees or fines that you can get stuck with at Williams. Small price to pay, perhaps, for spending four years in the beautiful Berkshires.