By Ellie Pratt
On Sept. 13, 2021, the official Instagram of the student government association for St. Mary’s posted a reminder that “Public safety can still ticket you if you park in Historic, even if you’re a patron of Enso’s. Avoid the $20 fine, take a bike and enjoy the walk!” This post sparked some controversy, with students questioning what made them any different to other patrons of Historic St. Mary’s City and why they could be fined.
According to Public Safety’s ticket records, year to date–as of Oct. 1–out of a total 518 parking tickets issued, there have been 46 parking tickets issued for Lot A–Historic St. Mary’s City. Tressa Setlak, the director of Public Safety for St. Mary’s explained: “The college and Historic St. Mary’s City have a memorandum of understanding…in that memorandum of understanding, we provide patrol and security services to Historic, and we also have an agreement with them that they allow us to use a few spaces in Historic’s lot for faculty and staff specifically.” She went on to say “Part of the patrol security services that we offer is we enforce parking regulations on Historic’s property, so Lot A belongs to Historic.”
Dr. Regina Faden, the executive director of Historic St. Mary’s City, told The Point News: “When people park vehicles in the State House lot and leave them there as they go to class or meetings, this ties up limited spaces for visitors to the museum. As the [Instagram] post explained, cars parking in bus spaces has caused significant problems in the past. When school children are visiting we need to provide a place for their coach buses to park, as the tour requires students to be on and off the bus through their four hours on site.”
Junior Hannah Yale is mostly concerned with the accessibility of Historic for disabled students. She suggested a collaboration between Public Safety, Historic, and the Accommodations Office “to issue school wide accessible parking passes for students who have physical disabilities but don’t have a state-issued disabled parking placard. That way, students could use their own vehicles as mobility aids to help them get around campus.”
Public safety has worked with OAS to work out an option for temporarily disabled students. Setlak explained: “There’s four or five handicap spaces right in the front of Lot A –which belongs to Historic. So I did work with [historic] and we share those spots now, so if we have a student from accessibility services that has some mobility issues temporarily they can get a permit from OAS that lets them use those spaces.”
Sydney Lipsman, a senior, has mixed feelings about the situation. On one hand she understands why Historic must regulate Lot A. It is connected to campus, but is not the college campus and that should be respected. However, students do patronize Enso’s and Historic regularly, and Lipsman sees this as a big part of the campus culture, so prioritizing other visitors over St. Mary’s students is upsetting.
“The parking regulations are kind of ridiculous sometimes,” she stated and expressed interest in alternative solutions like allowing students to park there after a certain time or on certain days in order to foster a better and more accessible relationship between students and Historic.
The issue of student parking at Historic has been a longstanding issue; however, it is important to understand that Lot A is the property of St. Mary’s City, and Public Safety can only work within the agreement that has been established. Perhaps in the future, more flexible accommodations can be made for students, but for now the policy remains.