Did you know the Safety and Security (S&S) office doesn’t like it when people write articles about them? Okay, so that’s a given…but seriously.
A friend of mine was recently parked in Sanderson on a Sunday and forgot to move their car before 8 AM Monday, and was issued a ticket of $50. Needless to say, they weren’t happy. After speaking with S&S about an article recently published in the Bagpipe (which talked about the S&S office and the way in which they need to reform their policy), they basically told my friend that without such high fines there would be no incentive to follow the parking rules. They then proceeded to tell them how “the authors of the article obviously didn’t read the entire handbook given to them at the beginning of the year explaining the ticketing process, or they would’ve been able to answer their ‘did you know’ questions.”
I’m not going to just bash S&S and all of their outrageous fees; I believe Austin Cantrell and Bradley Sewell did an excellent job of pointing those out in their article “Rethinking Tickets.” I would simply like to continue the discussion they began, referencing their article as the starting point from which I was compelled to consider the much larger issue.
That is, S&S is not demonstrating love in their policies, and we as a student body do not have an effective way of calling out faculty and staff.
Let me take you back two months ago, to the incident we’ve all come to know and love as #REPLYALL. Hilarious? Yes. Was it loving and considerate? Perhaps not. Dean Voyles did an excellent job handling the situation, calling us out not only as students who went against the code of conduct, as one would expect any academic dean to do. More importantly, though, he called us out on our sin, and how we failed to love each other by being kind and considerate. His words were not biting or harsh; they simply spoke truth and demanded love. Dean Voyles’s ended his email with the following statement:
“Please respect your neighbors and refrain from wasting their time as well as their storage space. Let’s start the year well by loving our neighbors and honoring them above ourselves. Romans 12:9-17.”
Personally, I greatly appreciated his email and felt convicted by it. I often do not love people and do not treat them the way I would like to be treated, and this was another example of that. Praise God that our academic dean was willing to call us out on our sin and point us to Jesus and His commandments (which are to love one another - John 13:34-35)!
After reading “Rethinking Tickets,” I began to consider, “Why is it that we as students do not likewise have an effective way of calling out faculty and staff on their sin, and having them reform accordingly? They expect us to change our behavior when we’re in the wrong, so is it too much to ask of them to do the same?"
Dean Voyles’s response to #REPLYALL was an amazing example of how any Christian community should function. We are told in the Scriptures to lovingly speak the truth and to call other believers’ sin out. Austin and Bradley began to do this by addressing how S&S policies need reform, and how the fees they charge are not right to impose on college students who have little to no money.
I would like to address the ticketing policy again, but not simply with a view that says “The tickets are too much money and I shouldn’t have to pay them.” Instead, in light of what I have shared above, I take an approach similar to that of Dean Voyles and ask the question “Is it loving?”
Is it truly loving and considerate to charge such high fees for something that is not really a big deal? I am not going to go into the specifics of how much each ticket costs for each offense. “Rethinking Tickets” did that beautifully. My goal is to simply, yet effectively, call out S&S for not being very loving or very considerate, and—to borrow from Jesus’ language—lording their authority over us. We are all familiar with Mark 10:45 and the preceding verses, and I think they apply to this situation.
It’s true that ticket prices are a major inconvenience, and it’s much easier to just complain that they cost way too much and compare our prices to those of other academic institutions. Again, though, the issue here is not simply one of price tag; the issue is that the S&S office is not loving our community well. They are being authoritarians and charging outrageous amounts just for the sake of ensuring adherence to their policy.
Instead, they need to deeply consider how to best love students, what that would look like from a biblical perspective. They must consider the fact that the majority of students aren’t likely to have a lot of money. They are already “spending” around $40,000 to just attend Covenant. Yes, almost everyone at Covenant receives some kind of aid, but after all the expenses, loans, and payments, they don’t have the money to just pay random fees. Finally, S&S must consider the true weight of the offense.
In closing, I’d like to leave S&S with some practical applications of my argument. Not that I thought Austin and Bradley had bad suggestions, I just believe these may be quicker to implement and more effective solutions that truly cut to the heart of the matter.
Significantly lower/eliminate fees: $10 would get the point across, and offenders would have a temporary hold on their account.
Design a new permit which includes students’ phone numbers: in the event of an incorrectly parked vehicle, students are able to be immediately contacted in order to promptly move it. If they don’t answer/cooperate, they will be charged the $10 fee.
Make the rules more accessible and more easily understood.
LOVE. Be considerate. I repeat, understand the fact that most students have little to no money, especially not to be spending on outrageously expensive fees that just go to prove your authority.
May we at Covenant be a community of believers that strives for love and Christ-likeness. May we be a community that seeks to clothe ourselves with humility, is open to rebuke and correction, that listens to each other, and most importantly, listens to the way God speaks to us through others.