Did you know the Safety and Security (S&S) office refuses to make public the rate or amount of tickets overturned through the appeals process?
Did you know if you appeal a ticket you have the right to argue your innocence before the Appeals Committee?
Did you know the fine for parking two tires over some grass in your designated parking lot is the same amount as if you drove up on the lawn outside the Chapel, got out, and went to class?
Did you know S&S does not give any warnings, for any offence, after the first 3 days of Fall Semester?
We write today to begin a conversation on a few Safety and Security policies that need to be changed. Most important to this article are the unnecessarily high rate of ticket fines most of us have been forced to pay.
As a Covenant student, you are probably aware of the high ticket rates such as $200 for parking without a permit (per day) and $50 for parking in the wrong lot (per day). While offenders have the option to pay half price within five days of issuance, it is our opinion, and the overwhelming opinion of others, that the rates should be at least half the price to begin with.
For most adults, $50 is a big deal. Fifty dollars become an even bigger deal when it’s demanded of college students who are already counting their dollars before going out on a Friday night. Having ridiculously high penalty rates does not deter students from parking in the wrong spot. Spending any amount for no return does not sit well with anyone, especially college students. As a point of reference, down the mountain at UTC, the most expensive fee for any ticket is $35. At Georgia Tech., the fine for an unregistered vehicle is only $50 and failure to display parking permit is $10. For a school that cares so much for its students, for a school that charges on average $37,000 total for attendance, for a school that preaches grace in every classroom, why are our parking fees so high? Can Covenant College really not afford to give us a break on tickets?
We believe the Safety and Security Office is in a pivotal position today to re-brand their office by pushing for lower fees. At a time when the S&S office could use a P.R. facelift, they are now being offered the opportunity to lead a movement to lower ticket prices. Student (and especially parent) perception of the S&S Office would change from “Barney Fife-esque” to one of a necessary enforcer who endeavors to keep Covenant safe and orderly. The Safety and Security’s public opinion would improve while our community rallies behind their leadership for lower fees.
One of the employees of the S&S office said to us, “You’re never going to have a perfect system.” While we agree that utopia will not soon be reached atop Lookout, as a community we need to do better. Below are our suggestions humbly submitted for your consideration:
1. Decrease fee rates.
2. Add gravel to Shadowlands so grass growth does not limit parking space.
3. Create levels of fees depending on the level of offense.
4. Create a warning citation for first-time offenders (for minor violations).
5. Emphasize the right to appear before the appeals committee.
While we understand and accept that this article will not be welcomed in the S&S office, we enjoy praising benevolent and fair institutions but will not remain silent when fixable problems are obvious. Further, we do not seek to become enemies with our enforcers as we find that neither wise nor necessary. We have written, without apology, our views and pray our suggestions are given the overwhelming weight of public support. We have attached our names to this piece because we believe students should not be afraid to speak their minds. We also write to encourage others who see injustice on campus socially, institutionally, theologically, etc. to speak up via the blessing that is the Bagpipe.
So let's agree some changes need to be made. May imperfection be something we battle against, personally and institutionally, as we fight for fairness and justice.