New parking system, old problems

Public Safety hopes more stringent parking violation control will benefit drivers on campus

Caroline Schell and Kylee Sapp

The new parking system makes it easier to track parking permits, according to Director of Public Safety Ethan Kipnes, but many Washington and Lee students say campus parking is more of a headache than ever.

“As a commuting student, I’m disappointed that I paid $65 for a parking permit and I can’t even find space in the deck,” Emma Whittemore, ‘16, said. “I’ve been late for class numerous times because I’ve had to park in the Woods Creek lot and the law school parking lot. Are freshmen allowed to park in the deck now? I’m not sure what the problem is, but my friends and I are very frustrated.”

According to the Phi’s online poll, many students are frustrated with the parking situation. Some have said it is because they not only pay for a parking permit to park on campus, but are also penalized when there are simply no spots available.

Over the summer, Public Safety partnered with an outside vendor, iParq, to issue parking permits for the school year. iParq allowed the university to automate the registration and ticketing process, which had previously been done manually.

Sophomore Class Representative Mary Page Welch sat down with Kipnes to discuss the new parking system. He explained that in addition to moving to an automated system, fines have been reevaluated.

Students can be issued tickets for several offenses, including parking an unregistered vehicle in a campus lot or failing to park straight enough within a space. Many students have already received multiple parking tickets this year. Parking fines generally run from $50 to $100.

Kipnes said Public Safety officers conduct daily lot surveys—as often as six times a day—to get a sense of how many spaces are filled at a given time.

“The decrease in availability of spots is extremely frustrating, and I predict it will only get worse as the weather gets colder,” Kamryn McPike, ’16, said.

But Kipnes said the new system should increase the availability of parking spaces in the deck. Because it’s now automated, Public Safety officers surveying the parking deck can better tell whether a person parked illegally has been given multiple warnings or is a first-time offender.

A vehicle will be towed if it has violated the parking rules three times. Kipnes said Public Safety feels more comfortable enforcing this rule because it now has the ability to look up the exact number of violations issued against a specific vehicle.

“Our parking enforcement is really not intended to be a money-making scheme,” Kipnes said. “It’s intended to enforce the parking rules and make sure that people park where they’re assigned. Our responsibility is to do our best to make sure spaces are available for commuters.”

Some students have voiced concerns that the new third-year housing requirement, which will begin during the 2016-2017 academic year, will put an increased strain on available parking. But Public Safety said it has already addressed these changes.

Public Safety said it reviewed the average number of juniors applying for a parking sticker in previous years and tried to ensure that number of spaces would be available for students living on campus next year.