Parking creates confusion among some students


Sami Mirza

The Brooks parking lot behind Brooks Hall and Walker Hall on Park Ave.

For many students, parking has been shrouded in confusion and misunderstandings, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, some students do not know how to find information until it is too late.

According to the college’s traffic and parking regulations, there can only be a minimal amount of signs in order to “preserve the beauty of the campus.”  This can make it difficult for students to know where to park. Director of Public Safety James Basinger has been trying to help combat this.

“This last year, when folks had to get tested at Robertson, there were two of the Public Safety staff who would hand out parking packets, the information was also available on the Public Safety website, and it would tell them where to put the sticker on the car and where the parking lots were,” Basinger said.

Additionally, Public Safety also asks for student’s phone numbers when they issue the sticker. That way, they are able to call students to ask them to move their vehicles or if they accidentally leave their window down.

Even with all of these precautions, David Ahlers, ’22, has had bad experiences with tickets and parking due to lack of knowledge.

“I live on Prospect, so for about a semester I parked behind my house (in) the Brooks parking lot, but I was asked to move my parking spot earlier in the semester which was kind of a pain. Apparently my sticker was not valid there, but they hadn’t told me for a full semester and I was asked to move.”

Basinger shed light on this topic.

“Last semester we did not ticket at all because of COVID,” Basinger said. “We found it too (stressful) and there weren’t as many students here. Now with more students coming back, there are more cars. We have to enforce parking so we have spaces available for folks that purchased their permits (for their assigned lot).”

Ahlers thought of moving to the Brooks overflow lot, 24A, but it was unavailable due to the restoration of Bentley Hall. The workers are using the lot to store construction materials and vehicles. With both employees and students sending in complaints about not being able to park in their assigned lot, Public Safety had to step in.

“I talked it over with Student Life and we decided that the best thing to do is modify behavior by starting to enforce the parking again which is not pleasant for us at all,” Basinger said. “Nobody likes getting a parking ticket and nobody likes giving parking tickets.”

After the careful planning Public Safety announced they were going to start handing out citations, but there were still students who were caught unaware.

“On February 23, we published something in MyAllegheny saying that (Public Safety) is going to start enforcing parking in order to make them aware that they need to park where they are supposed to and get their pass,” Basinger said. “On March 1, we began issuing pink warnings. It was a big pink warning telling students that they were parked in the wrong spot. It went under the wiper blade of a lot of cars for an entire week.”

Public Safety began gradually issuing parking citations on March 8. Even after easing into handing out citations, it still caught students off-guard.

“I wish I had known about this sooner so I could have made adjustments before receiving two tickets which I got one day after the other with no knowledge of,” Ahlers said. “(After moving lots), it’s extremely frustrating that I pay for this spot and it’s halfway across campus, although it’s not a very large campus, it still takes five to seven minutes to get to my car.”

Ahlers explained that there may be a larger problem of communication.

“It would have been nice if they did a campus-wide email or any sort of update from the school on when [Bentley] could potentially be done,” Ahlers said. “Something once a month would be great. Anything that could give us some sort of indication on when I can expect to be able to park somewhere.”

Public Safety has provided a way to help students who have gotten tickets due to misunderstandings.

“There is no fee for appealing (a citation). What will happen is if you get a citation, and whatever amount that is, will be put onto your college bill,” Basinger said. “Then you can come down to Public Safety with your copy of the citation, stop at the window, and tell them that you want to appeal it. They will give you a form and you (are able to) write down your case (of why you want to appeal). A group of representing staff, administration, faculty and students who will hear all of the appeals. If you are found not guilty, the amount that went on your account will be taken off. Right now, (the amount) is on there pending the outcome of your appeal. We have an appeal hearing at the end of each semester.”