Strike Parking Services 

Parking Services continue to be a source of student frustration at the University of Connecticut. Parking Services denies students of genuine appeals and has found in the pockets of students yet another source of unjust revenue. Photo by Erin Knapp/The Daily Campus

We are no strangers to revolution. The American Revolution granted the United States freedom from the chokehold of imperial England; The Haitian Revolution established the island as a sovereign state independent from France; The French experienced a revolution of their own throughout the tail end of the 18th century and into the early 19th century. It is human nature, when faced with oppression or discomfort or both, to confront the injustices carried out by the tyrants of history. This isn’t limited to national movements, either. 2022 saw protests at corporations such as Starbucks and publishing giant Harper Collins, led by dissatisfied employees and supported by workers unions.  

What unifies each of these movements is a common goal of fighting for what is just, whether it be national sovereignty or fair pay. Another common trait is that these revolutions are often followed by a period of reconstruction; the U.S. and Haiti established their respective constitutions, paving the way for the rebuilding of a new democracy.  

We as students of the University of Connecticut have experienced our own version of this grace period. Following what was one of the more pathetic attempts of student advocacy, I believe it’s time we show the university, the state and members of student government that we are, in fact, capable of tangible, revolutionary change.  

Yet the first step in establishing a movement is identifying who yields the iron fist. You may be thinking, “Great, another article about the board of trustees,” and while yes, the board remains the most prominent threat to the long-term integrity of the student body, what truly plagues our sacred Storrs campus is a looming eye fierce as the deadliest of hawks: Parking Services.  

I’d place a reasonable wager that a majority of students with cars — both on-campus students and off-campus students like myself — have received a parking ticket within this academic year. Hell, I bet you’ve likely gotten one in the past week. In 2018 alone, Parking Services issued over 37,000 tickets, generating — ready for this? — $966,000 in ticket revenue. Per their website, these tickets can range from $30 to $150, with an added $5 for late fees. Students have the opportunity to appeal their citations, however only half were approved in 2018, and I’ve seldom come across success story in my experience.  

Just this past week I appealed a $50 ticket I received for parking in a reserved space — in an empty parking lot on a Sunday afternoon. My appeal was denied, despite citing a mental health emergency. Parking Services does offer a verbal appeal option if one’s initial appeal is denied; however, this requires students to go in-person and give a statement, a hurdle in itself as most students do not have the time to do so.  

In 2018, Parking Services issued over 37,000 tickets, generating $966,000 in ticket revenue. Students have the opportunity to appeal the ticket, however only half were approved in 2018. Photo by Erin Knapp/The Daily Campus 

Have I received other tickets in the past? Absolutely. Were they all justified? Probably some of them. Were all my appeals genuine? For legal purposes, yes. But who decided Parking Services was the jury on whether a student is experiencing an emergency? I’m not angry at the imposing of parking laws — I understand the potential chaos that would ensue if on-campus parking was a free-for-all with no zoning or permits. What is upsetting is that Parking Services denies students of genuine appeals and has found in the pockets of students yet another source of unjust revenue.  

Students are continuously weighed down by the burden of being the university’s fallout for financial gain, and the draconian policing employed by Parking Services is just another example.  

Remember those Area 51 memes, and the “they can’t stop all of us” mentality? I think it’s time we bring this back. And before I get put on another list, I’m not advocating for another Area 51 raid threat — pinky promise. What would it look like if every student with a parking ticket protested them and didn’t pay? Well, not great, unfortunately.  

If a ticket goes unpaid, the amount is transferred to the student’s fee bill, along with a $5 late fee. If a fee bill remains unpaid, students may be placed on hold for enrollment, or worse, not receive a diploma upon graduation until the balance is paid. With this in mind, advocating for a mass movement of x number of thousands of students to put their college degrees at risk may be a bit far fetched. But remember who we’re dealing with here: UConn.  

If there’s anything we’ve learned about UConn in the past few years — or even months — it’s that above academics, above funding for programs, above all domains of the university rests their public image. Touting “Platinum and Green” sustainability status while being deeply invested in the U.S. military-industrial complex — one of the largest polluters of greenhouse gasses in world history — or celebrating the university’s upgrade from “A1” to “Aa3” financial status, an indicator of alleged financial stability despite continuous reckless spending and costly, secret lawsuits, exist as just some examples of UConn’s superficial accomplishments. The recent “President’s Report” outlines this obsession further, with emphasis on the increasing average SAT scores of applicant pools despite supposedly committing to a more holistic admissions process. The university even lost it when we were demoted to the No. 26 on the U.S. News and World Report rankings of public universities in the U.S., despite numerous universities around the country removing themselves from the competition due to scandals and an overall distrust in the ranking process.  

What does this have to do with Parking Services? Everything. Imagine thousands of seniors being told they are at risk of not graduating because of an unpaid parking ticket or two, jeopardizing some four years of hard work over a petty citation. Seeing the President’s Report’s emphasis on the 4.1 average years to graduation, a statistic that holds a strong level of significance in the ranking formula, such a threat would light a fire under the administration. Let’s see what happens when the administration is forced to defend a couple hundred thousand dollars of ticket revenue and the crumbling of their ranking, all over parking tickets. It’d be a PR nightmare and a beautiful sight.  

Leave a Reply