If you are a student at St. Cloud State University, then you’re probably aware of the complaints others often have about lack of free parking along with the alleged increase in parking tickets that Public Safety seems to be writing.
Many students are under the impression that every time they park their car in a zone they don’t have a parking pass for or violate another rule, they are going to get caught by Public Safety and end up with a hole in their wallet. However, many students don’t know there are two designated areas for them to legally park their car for free on campus.
“At 6 o’clock Monday through Friday, L-lot and V-lot are free parking to the public and [also] free parking on the weekends,” Associate Director of Public Safety Jennifer Super said.
Although some free parking may be available to students during a certain time of the day, folks would like to see more free parking than what is offered on campus for student convenience.
“I think it should be a lot less [money to park],” freshman Jeremy Howells said. “K-lot should be free because paying over $100 to park like 20 minutes from my dorm isn’t really that convenient for me.”
In a day and age where easy accommodations mean everything to people, having to park a long distance from amenities can pose a much larger issue for students and even staff.
“I know for students it’s tough to pay these tickets because they’re college students [and] they’re not working full-time,” Howells said.
Public Safety makes an average of $250,000 per year from parking tickets alone, not including the money made from students and faculty that pay for their on-campus parking permits. Although it seems absurd to students that just two parking lots are free during certain times, Public Safety would like to remind everyone that it’s not their goal to collect money from students for parking violations.
“We would like to not make any money on citations,” Super said. “[We would like to] make it on parking permits and pay lots… but unfortunately we have that small group that just still receives the tickets.”
The money each of the pay lots receives throughout the year turns out to be the same amount of income that Public Safety makes off of parking tickets from cars. Super said that the best way for people to save money on parking would be to buy a permit for a parking lot and to avoid the hassle of paying a parking citation.
“If the overwhelming majority are buying parking permits and are using the pay lots legitimately, it is a much smaller portion [of money] than receiving a parking citation,” Super said.
In rebuttal, Howells has a different vision about the situation and believes that Public Safety is trying to make extra money for themselves.
“I think they are [trying to make more money] because I got a ticket when I parked six feet from the crosswalk,” Howells said. “Those things are just too nitpicky, like I wasn’t even blocking the crosswalk.”
The rules and regulations that SCSU Public Safety have are similar, if not the same as most other Minnesota State schools, including the cost of a parking permit and citations. In fact, the state of Minnesota has a law that Minnesota State schools must charge an equal amount for parking permits to students and staff for the same parking.
The one question students have been asking for the last two school years is “Why does it seem like Public Safety is writing more tickets than ever before?” The reason behind this is since the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, Public Safety began “24/7 parking enforcement and that is because we needed to equal out the cost to all of our users,” Super said.
This may not be the answer students wanted to hear from Public Safety, since students are more concerned about having more free parking areas rather than less and would like to receive at least a warning before they are ticketed or have their car booted.
“Getting warnings for the first two times [would be nice], but it shouldn’t become a problem if there’s [more] free lots because then there’s no reason to park illegally,” Howells said.
Public Safety encourages students to try and figure out the amount of time they spend on campus and to ponder how often they use their cars to set students up with the best possible plan.
“Educating the whole campus community on where they should and shouldn’t park and what the parking rules and regulations are is important,” Super said.
Nevertheless, she wants students to keep in the back of their minds that in order to help keep parking areas maintained throughout the years, additional free parking on campus won’t be an option for the future.