Questioning campus policies

Picture this scene: You are walking back across the Williams tundra after yet another epic Goodrich party rife with fist pumping and Keystone. After a 10-minute walk you are finally back at your dorm. But then it hits you – your car is still parked in the faculty and staff parking spots outside your dorm. While the likelihood of a biology professor desperately needing to park outside of Dodd House at 5:15 on a Saturday morning is slim, the likelihood of you being ticketed $50 for leaving your car in that spot overnight is close to 100 percent.

I understand the ideology behind enforcing parking regulations. I enjoy walking between classes and running into friends traversing the science quad. If there were no parking regulations and students drove everywhere, aspects of this campus’ charm would certainly be compromised. The campus is also small enough that there really is no reason to drive anywhere. Furthermore, with the exception of the parking structure by the ’62 Center, most of the faculty and staff parking spots fill up during the day, so logistically it is completely understandable that during school hours, students should not be allowed to park in those spots. However, as far as I can tell, many tickets are given to students who park overnight in faculty and staff spots, often on weekend nights. While I agree with the premise of a walking campus, some of the practical implications of this war on parking are less than ideal.

Since many tickets are given to students who park in faculty and staff parking spaces on weekend nights, the question must be asked, why are these students surrendering themselves to a $50 fine? Immediately, three reasons jump out:

1) It is very cold and very late and it is a 12-minute walk from the Thompson parking lot (the unbearable cold undoubtedly makes any walk seem much longer).

2) The car owner is drunk and does not want to risk his life and the lives of his friends in order to return his car to Thompson.

3) Both one and two.

It is thus a logical conclusion that for each student who responsibly chooses not to drive while drunk in order to escape a ticket there is probably another student who drives drunk back to his or her allotted spot. Therefore, it can be argued that the parking policy and its stringent enforcement on weekend nights indirectly encourage drunk driving.

Another point of contention with the parking policy at the College is the strict penalty for parking violations. In an e-mail exchange that I had with Director of Security Dave Boyer, he stated that the penalty for parking infractions was raised to $50 in 2009 and has since seen an increased rate of compliance. While as an economics major I understand how that policy change makes sense, after conducting conversations with fellow students and students at other schools I have become convinced of the egregiously unfair nature of the $50 ticket. At Haverford, which also proudly supports a walking campus, the penalty for parking in the wrong spot is only $20 and students can park anywhere they want during the weekends. It seems wrong that students here, who either have no income or make $8.75 an hour working a campus job, should be fined $50. Just because we have a privileged education does not mean that fining us at such a high rate is acceptable or even feasible given the financial situations of many students here.

Ultimately, what confuses me most about the parking situation at Williams is how inflexible Security has been. Rarely have I parked illegally in a spot and gotten away with it. For the most part, Security is quite pleasant and understanding. When a party is broken up they don’t always report the underage drinking and they generally seem to have the students’ best interests near to their hearts. Aside from parking infractions, I have only had positive interactions with Security at the College and this only makes their monomaniacal insistence on ticketing cars parked in faculty and staff spots seem even more out of line. Essentially, this issue could be resolved if students could park in faculty and staff spots during weekends, which would open up spots by the art studio, the parking structure by Greylock Quad, the spots behind Stetson and others.

Raphael Menko ’12 is a history and economics major from Narberth, Pa. He lives in Currier.