The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Students express discontent with parking enforcement, regulations

Many students feel that parking on campus during this academic year has taken on a whole new level of frustration for them. Fewer available spaces and more cars have made parking on campus a headache waiting to happen.

This coincides with the shift in power of parking enforcement from the SMU Police Department to the Park ‘N Pony office that happened last August. Some of the changes that immediately went into effect were stricter parking enforcement, as well as the most recent additions to the Moody Garage parking spaces: visitor-only spots.

“Ridiculous,” said commuter Blair Brown. “Students pay a good amount of money to park here; it is ridiculous for them to take away spots from students when there already aren’t enough.”

Brown is a member of the newly formed Facebook group “Students Against Park ‘N Pony (SAPP).” According to the description, the group’s intention is “only to alleviate the abuse Park ‘N Pony inflicts upon our wallets and vehicles… to promote a better parking environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

Frustration began to build over the winter break when Park ‘N Pony decided to create more parking spaces for visitors, sectioning off a portion of the second level of Moody Garage for this purpose.

“Visitors are paying customers too,” Director of Parking and ID Services for Park ‘N Pony Mark Rhodes said. “Just like students, visitors have to pay a fee to park – only they pay the one-day fee, which is relatively more than the students pay.”

Citations were given out to students unaware of the policy, which outraged them. Fined students felt that Park ‘N Pony had enacted a new policy that was poorly communicated to them.

Jason Ballmann, member and creator of the SAPP group, said, “Park ‘N Pony should also make a stronger effort to notify its customers, especially students and faculty, of parking enforcement changes. Why do students have any reason to look for visitor parking signs?”

The Park ‘N Pony office says that many of the citations were appealed, and in many cases the citations were thrown out in hopes that students would then become adjusted to the policy. When asked about the appeal process, Rhodes says that the policy and procedure is clearly printed on the Park ‘N Pony Web site.

In regard to the huge increase in citations given out this school year, Rhodes says “behavioral science” is the theory behind Park ‘N Pony’s policy on parking citations.

“With the negative incentive of citations present, students and others will eventually learn the parking regulations,” he said. “Without this there is no incentive to obey the rules.”

Rhodes says that this is “education through citation,” however the ultimate goal of Park ‘N Pony is “voluntary compliance with parking regulations.”

The Park ‘N Pony office, unlike the SMU PD, has been able to completely devote resources to parking enforcement. Under the old SMU PD regime, officers were required to perform other duties during the day and slacked on parking enforcement.

“Park ‘N Pony is dedicated to parking enforcement, and by doing this we are contributing to campus safety by freeing up the SMU PD to do their job,” Rhodes said.

With limited resources devoted to parking enforcement, the SMU PD gave out approximately 15,000 to 18,000 parking citations in a time span of September through January. In this same time frame, Park ‘N Pony issued more than 25,000 parking citations.

“It is all about customer satisfaction,” Rhodes said, referring to visitors and vehicles without a permit who park in student parking.

“People are like parking spot poachers, stealing from those who paid for the parking spots,” he said.

Rhodes also dispelled the rumor that citation numbers are so high due to the fact that parking enforcement officers are paid on commission, saying “there is no validity” to this claim.

“All ticket revenues go to funding parking enforcement activities directly,” Rhodes said. “I think it would be ridiculous for students obeying all parking rules and regulations to have to pay for it in part.”

Rhodes also added that part of the revenues go to funding the Giddy-Up service that provides safe campus escorts on campus. Giddy-Up served over 12,000 riders last year.

Binkley Garage will be opening toward the latter half of the semester. The first and second levels will be designated as visitor and faculty only, while levels three, four and five will provide 563 parking spaces for SMU students.

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