Number of Vehicles Towed on Campus Skyrockets

After receiving four citations for missing a decal or parking in the wrong lot, vehicles will be towed. (Photo by Kevin Baier)
After receiving four citations for missing a decal or parking in the wrong lot, vehicles will be towed. (Photo by Kevin Baier)

As many students have noticed, the Public Safety office has recently started cracking down on students and visitors who have illegally parked their cars on campus property.

Last year, Public Safety officers only towed an overall total of 43 vehicles throughout both the fall and the spring semester. So far this year, they have already surpassed this number.

Since the start of classes 15 weeks ago, Public Safety has already towed 48 vehicles off of campus property on account of either being illegally parked, being parked in the incorrect lot, or not having a visible parking decal.

According to Sergeant Eric “Tony” Brooks of the Public Safety office, most of the towed vehicles come from Lot T, also known as “Guam,” because it is the campus’ largest lot where students try to hide their vehicles if they do not have a parking decal. Brooks also said that Public Safety “get[s] a lot of phone calls” from other students on campus who get annoyed with the extra vehicles parked in Guam.

Each time that students, visitors, or staff members park their vehicle on campus without a campus parking decal, or in a lot different than their designated lot, they receive a parking citation. When a person receives a fourth citation, his or her vehicle will also automatically be towed, whether previous citations have been paid off or not.

The exceptions to this rule include when a vehicle is parked in a fire lane, in a designated handicapped area when not having a handicap permit, or when blocking access to a loading dock, dumpster, or bus access lane. In these cases, the vehicle will automatically be towed without any citation or warning.

Towed vehicles are then taken over to a local towing company located a few miles away from campus where the owner of the car will be charged $25 for each day that the car stays there. This naturally caused a problem for students or visitors who lack parking decals on their vehicles.

Without a parking decal, Public Safety has no way of knowing to whom a car belongs. Therefore, many students in the past have parked their cars illegally, been towed without knowing, only to find out a week or so later it is gone  and  they must pay around $200 or more to the towing company.

This caused the Student Government Association (SGA) to propose that Public Safety start sending all-student e-mails when they tow a vehicle and have no other way of getting in contact with its owner. “The idea behind it was several students were getting towed and they weren’t being notified,” said one of the Caroline senators, first-year Alex Walls.

This is the reason for the recent flood of campus e-mails referring to the towed cars these past two months. “SGA wanted a way for us to tell students,” said Sergeant Brooks, “because we don’t know whose cars they are.”

Now, students who are towed for not having a parking decal will still be notified and will be able to retrieve their car before the penalty costs start racking up. But what about finding transportation to go retrieve a car? “That’s on them,” said Sergeant Brooks.

Some students on campus, though, still disagree with a few of the towing policies put in place by Public Safety. Sophomore Rachel Kaelber had her car towed this year sometime between 3:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.

“I left it in lot Z,” said Kaelber, “with a note in the window saying I would move it when I woke up because I needed to be in Baltimore.” When she woke up, however, her car was gone and she needed to quickly find a ride to the towing company, convince her parents to lend her $150, and retrieve her car in order to get where she needed to be that morning.

“The employees of the towing company were very respectful,” Kaelber said, “but I felt like my personal space had been invaded, and that something so commonly done was inappropriate for such a small crime.”

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