Parking initiative safeguards faculty spots

There is plenty of parking to go around. It’s just that not all of it is convenient. That’s what Police Chief Gay Shepherd thinks.In the past, students have nonchalantly slipped into faculty spots when they thought the occasion called for it, but this semester they will find the way blocked by orange cones and a posted guard.

“Convenience is the biggest problem with our parking,” Shepherd said. “Parking is here. It’s just not really convenient.”

Faculty members, who pay $50 for their parking permits, don’t seem to relish the idea of losing their spaces to students who forgot to set their alarm clocks. So now a parking lot warden stands guard behind Henderson Hall eight hours a day.

The initiative, however, did not come from the University police. The motion for stricter parking enforcement actually came from the President’s Office after frequent complaints from instructors and administrators.

“What we’re doing is simply enforcing the campus parking policies,” President Bell said about the change.

The action was primarily handled by the Building and Grounds Committee after discussions with the Faculty Senate and University police.

“We got 11,000 folks coming to school here,” Shepherd said. “We can’t all park at the door.”

The first guard hired by campus police lasted two days before he quit. Adam Jernigan, the current guard, doesn’t seem to have strong feelings toward his position in either direction.

“It’s a job. Basically you sit out here in the sun for eight hours,” Jernigan said. “I don’t believe in going into debt, and this was available, so I did it.”

Worst case scenario: students will have to park next to the intramural fields across Willow Avenue. But Shepherd said that’s a “perfect place to park.” The CATS bus stops at the intramural fields and takes students as far as the RUC.

The new system isn’t foolproof, though. Shepherd says students still try to park in the faculty lot from time to time. Jernigan reports illegal parking in his area to the police, who in turn drop by to write tickets.

“I hate to do it. Students are struggling to go to school these days,” Shepherd said.

The ultimate penalty for illegal parking is having your vehicle towed, though Shepherd says this is usually a last resort. During a typical fiscal year, the campus police collect around $200,000 in parking fines alone.