W&L students say university parking policies are unreasonable

There is a general disconnect between Public Safety and students, some say. Public Safety just wants to give fair parking options to everyone.


The parking deck is often full, especially during weekdays. Photo by Grace Mamon, ’22.

Bri Hatch

Students at Washington and Lee University are frustrated with the university parking ticket policies, which some view as unfair and unclear. 

From Aug. 1 to Oct. 22 in 2021, Washington and Lee Public Safety issued 433 parking tickets, a significant increase from the 165 tickets they gave out during that same time period last year. 

“It is not uncommon for parking related issues to be a frustration or a challenge in many communities, especially on a college campus where there is high density of people living and working together, and largely varying needs when it comes to parking,” Director of Public Safety Ethan Kipnes wrote in an email.

According to the university policy website, all members of Washington and Lee have to register their vehicles and display a valid and current parking permit in order to park on campus. There are 10 different permits, each granting parking access to specific parking lots on campus.

There are also 16 types of parking violation fines, ranging in severity from $15 for failing to properly display a parking permit to $250 for parking in a designated handicap space without a state issued permit or license plate. 

“The main goal of our parking enforcement efforts is to maintain compliance of the parking policies which are necessary for us to, as effectively and efficiently, manage the campus parking inventory to ensure that reasonable parking options are available for all members of the campus community,” Kipnes said. 

But many students do not view the parking policies on campus favorably, citing factors outside of their control as reasons for the tickets they received. 

Cami Fischmann, ’24, got a parking ticket last week for parking in the sorority lot which is the lot she should be allowed to park in. But Fischmann said she never received the parking permit she paid for from Public Safety, and the temporary one she has been using expired recently. 

“I feel like it was unjust because I paid for a parking pass, and they never sent me the parking pass,” she said. “So the mess-up was on their end, and I got a ticket for what they messed up.”

In general, Fischmann said, not many students know what the parking policies actually are. 

“I feel like the parking policies are not clear, because I don’t totally know where I’m allowed to park,” she said. “A lot of people don’t even know that they’re supposed to register their cars to get parking passes.”

But Kipnes pointed out that the full details of the university parking policy are spelled out on the university website: 

“The best way for students to avoid being ticketed is to follow the parking policies at all times,” he said. 

But some students believe the existing policies are simply unfair. 

Dalton Grauer, ’22, received a parking ticket after parking in the Lenfest parking lot because he was running late. He did not see any sign saying he could not park there, but received two emails anyway one before class, and one immediately after. 

“I got a warning and a ticket at the same time,” Grauer said. “I think it is seriously unfair that many times there are no warnings.”

But according to Kipnes, Public Safety gives out more warnings than tickets generally. From Aug. 1 to Oct. 22 in 2021, they issued 471 warnings and 433 tickets — and in that same period in 2020, they issued 249 warnings, and only 165 tickets. 

Fischmann believes that students should be given a warning before receiving a ticket. 

As for signs indicating parking policies, Grauer said there are not enough. Kipnes said that putting accurate signs in place is a priority for Public Safety. 

When the parking deck and other student lots are full, students will park elsewhere on campus, which can result in parking tickets. Photo by Grace Mamon, ’22.

“There is signage at the entrance of every campus parking lot and in most other parking areas around campus that clearly indicates the parking rules for that location,” Kipnes said. 

But the real issue, according to students, is that there are not enough available parking spots on campus in general. 

“There definitely aren’t enough parking spots, because I have to drive around every time that I want to park somewhere, especially during the school day,” Fischmann said. 

But according to university policy, this is not an excuse for defying parking policies. 

A parking permit does not guarantee the holder a parking space in any particular lot,” the website reads. “The inability to find a legal space within a particular lot is not valid reason for parking in violation of any parking policies.”

Grauer believes students should not have to be concerned about parking. 

“I feel like I should not be worried about parking in the ‘wrong spot’ when we are students at W&L and pay such a steep tuition,” he said. 

Kipnes pointed out that the parking ticket fines actually go back into the university community.

“All revenue generated from parking, like permit fees and ticket fees, is deposited into the University’s general fund and used for student financial aid resources,” Kipnes said.

But some students still see a larger disconnect between themselves and Public Safety.

“We need to be rational and understanding that students are not constantly thinking about parking 24/7,” Grauer said. 

Kipnes said he was not aware of these student feelings, and encourages students to reach out to the Public Safety Administrative team — which he is a part of — with any questions or concerns.