By Tatyanna Carman
The different types of parking violations issued by Public Safety on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus decreased from 35 to 10 in 2018, according to Capt. Jim Flatley.
The current 10 vehicle violation categories are decal violations, unauthorized lot, 15-minute violations, fire zone violations, handicap violations, parking on roadway, parking/driving on grass, speeding, careless driving and other.
The Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Planning and Secretary to the Board Debbie Stasolla said that the process to de escalate violations started in the summer of 2018 when Public Safety was presented with a question from a student task force on enforcement that the vice president of student affairs at that time organized. The question asked was about the students believing the parking fines at Rider were higher than at other institutions. Stasolla said Public Safety found that the fines were on par with other institutions, however it found that the parking violations list was “extensive” and “way too complex.”
“We originally had a much more extensive list of violations that were really more applicable to a municipality and were not things that we in Public Safety necessarily enforced. So there were things like failure to signal right, failure to signal left. We don’t focus on that. We focus primarily on safety, so traffic and parking violations that deal with safety,” she said.
This reduction was implemented last academic year according to Stasolla. The price of the fines stayed the same.
Director of Public Safety James Waldon said, “Over the last four years we have issued an average of 6,512 tickets per academic year on the Lawrenceville Campus and an average of 193 tickets per academic year on the Princeton Campus. Over the last four years we have received an average of $134,743 in fines per academic year on the Lawrenceville campus and an average of $6,231 in fines per academic year on the Princeton campus. All funds collected go into the university’s general fund.”
She also mentioned that there were more changes made by Public Safety the last academic year to accommodate students by making the former freshman commuter parking lot, near the Ben Cohen Field at the back of campus, an open lot as a response to an increase in capacity.
Another change was applied in spring 2019 where Public Safety, in collaboration with the Association for Commuter Students, issued that resident students were allowed to park in front of the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) and in the lot behind Fine Arts. This academic year, Public Safety also allowed for parking in Poyda Hall’s lot during the same time slot. Stasolla also explained that parking will be explored again for the addition to the Fine Arts Center and the consolidation of Westminster Choir College.
However, former commuting student and junior dance major Victoria Grisanzio expressed her issue with Public Safety’s ticketing process and parking regulations.
She said she received two parking tickets, one in fall 2018 and one in spring 2019. The first was for parking in the resident lot during the time that freshman commuters had to park in the back of campus while the second was for parking in the lot that she had a sticker for, but was using her father’s car. The latter ticket was appealed. She explained her attempted appeal for the first ticket.
“After you’re a freshman, you are told that you can park in the lot in front of the BLC, rather than having to park behind Poyda or in the CZR lot,” Grisanzio said. “I was told that and the woman that gave me the decal on the first day of classes circled the lot [on a map of the lot in front of the BLC] and I was like ‘perfect’. She circled the whole lot and not pointing out that there’s one area designated for residents and one for commuter students. And also meanwhile, the commuter student lot is very small and I didn’t know that. There was no clear communication.”
Grisanzio added that another issue with the parameters of that ticket was the slight mark to differentiate between the resident parking area and the commuter parking area, which is identified by a “very thin blue line that’s on the ground.” She also expressed that the signs that identify non-freshman resident parking and non-freshman commuter parking faces the CZR lot and is not visible to people that are parking in other rows, aside from those in the first row.
She is now a resident at the Steven R. Beckett ‘74 and Sharon McDonald-Beckett Village and said that she wished there was more parking available due to the isolation of the area from the rest of campus.
Grisanzio suggested that Public Safety should issue warnings rather than tickets for some cases and take into consideration the other responsibilities students have on campus.
“We have a lot on our plate and sometimes the last thing we’re thinking about is parking in the right place, especially since there’s so many of us and we have a very limited amount of parking available,” she said.
Commuter and junior communications major Elizabeth Curcio gave her advice to students on avoiding parking tickets.
“Public Safety has to give more of their time to more serious damages instead of just ticketing students in the parking lot. I know a lot of people have gotten tickets for being in the wrong lot, sometimes there are no spots in your arranged lot so you have to park somewhere else,” said Curcio.
She also said that students should get to campus early if they want to get a spot in the correct lot and not get a ticket.
Grisanzio also gave advice to students on how to avoid getting parking tickets.
“I don’t want to tell students to completely abide by all the parking regulations that we have because I don’t agree with all the parking regulations that we have,” she said. “So I would just tell them, if you really don’t want the ticket, just be as cautious as possible and to think outside the box and consider a blue line on the concrete to be a separation that’s going to get you a ticket or not get you a ticket. So, really, think outside the box.”
Stasolla advised students to take advantage of student escort services and not go to your car late at night by yourself. She also expressed how she felt on the issue of parking at Rider and how it transcends the university itself.
“I know it’s tough. I was a student, a long time ago, I was a commuter student for two years and parking is the number one complaint no matter what institution you attend,” said Stasolla. “It’s just what it is. You’re never going to make everyone happy, but we try to assign parking and we’ve done it in consultation of SGA [Student Government Association] and students in the past, we have a contractual obligation with the faculty union to ensure parking near the buildings where their offices are located. So we’ve got all these constituents we’ve got to keep in mind and so we do our best to do that.”