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Parking rules cause mixed reaction

Kate Antonacci | Wednesday, September 1, 2004

With classes underway, abiding by parking regulations may be at the back of students’ minds. But the hefty price tags accompanying Notre Dame Security/Police (NDSP) issued tickets may cause them to think twice.

Though many students are unaware of ticket fines, NDSP has clear stipulations for different types of violations – $10 for improper or overtime parking, $15 for parking in unassigned lots, $20 for driving on lawns and $30 for blocking a trash receptacle, amongst others.

On Tuesday, senior Alissa Lemmon, an off-campus resident, parked her car in a yellow no-parking zone in the D6 parking lot without a decal, risking multiple fines. Luckily for her, she got to her car before NDSP did.

“I think parking tickets are kind of stupid,” she said. “I used to get tickets all the time for parking at Main Circle. It’s not a big deal.”

Phillip Johnson, assistant director of Security/Police, said that NDSP is holding off for most students to register their cars before they begin issuing the steep $50 tickets for parking without a decal.

Other students said they feel tickets are necessary to maintain safety and fairness in the lots.

“I don’t mind if they start cracking down if that’s what they need to do,” said Ryann Swalling, a fifth-year architecture student who lives off-campus. “People take advantage, so if a $10 fine is what they need, then that’s fair.”

NDSP, however, insists there is no sudden crackdown and that parking regulations remain the same year to year.

“I don’t think we’re writing any more than we have in other years,” Johnson said. “Sometimes a reminder from our office in the form of a ticket is necessary.”

Suzanne Stryker, an off-campus resident who drives to campus for class, echoed Johnson’s point.

“Especially during the winter when the snow hasn’t been cleared in the lot, I think parking tickets are necessary,” she said.

Still, many people dismiss parking tickets as being minor problems, even the $50 fine.

“To me, it’s not a big deal because they just go on your student account,” Lemmon said.

Many drivers have discovered that NDSP gives out warnings, not tickets, to first-time offenders, meaning that the assigned amount on the ticket becomes void.

Kelly Hardy, a sophomore in Welsh Family Hall, received a warning last year for not having a decal on her car.

“I know you get one warning per academic school year and that is understandable because obviously there have to be rules that need to be followed,” she said. “But I got a warning during move-in this year. I forgot to move my car overnight. They were going to tow it in the morning, and I thought that was a little overboard.”

All tickets can, however, be appealed to a board of neutral members.

“There are no NDSP people on the appeal review board,” Johnson said. “It is made up of faculty, staff and students.”

Students receive written notification once their ticket is reviewed by the board, and if dissatisfied with the citation, may re-appeal their case. The second finding, however, is final.

Johnson said that if students pay their fine within 10 days and move their car to a legal spot, NDSP offers a 20 percent discount on the fine.

NDSP traffic rules, which differ from parking rules, are set by the law enforcement program “Click It or Ticket.” Funded by federal highway safety grants, the program was initiated in an effort to enforce seat belt and car seat laws for adults and children. Supported by Notre Dame, the program’s mission is clear – either buckle the seatbelt or get a ticket.

There has been a national reduction in the number of deaths by car accidents following the institution of the program, which also has paid television, radio, billboard and print advertisements. Deemed successful, “Click It or Ticket” has been initiated all over the country, including in Indiana’s neighboring states of Michigan, Illinois and Ohio.

To promote compliance with state jurisdiction, all traffic tickets issued at Notre Dame follow “Click It or Ticket” regulations.

Notre Dame students traveling off-campus should be aware of the strict enforcement of the program in the South Bend area.

“Local departments have geared up their patrols for school zones in particular,” Johnson said.