I apologize for the long absence. There was a death in the family and I've had so much to do in and out of work. Part of it is due to my returning to college in the fall, which is what the ranting is going to be about.
I spent 3 years at Genesee Community College and while there's numerous problems there (that I'll elaborate on in the future), there was one thing that was done right. Parking. There was no such things as parking permits or (with the exception of about 8 parking spots in the north corner of the campus that wasn't part of the regular parking lot), specific parking spots. Students and staff used the same two parking lots. You could register your car with Public Safety, but there was no cost to do so. In addition, there was 24 hour surveillance of the parking lot.
If I can go the rest of my life without having to set foot in Genesee County ever again, I'll do it. The few redeeming qualities do not make up for the corruption, racism and lack of employment in Genesee County. So, I'll be attending Monroe Community College (working and attending school full-time), then off to RIT nerd land, but I digress. My rant is the following.
Full-time students at MCC have to pay an extra $75 in the fall and spring semesters as a parking free ($50 in the summer). Taken directly from their rules and regulations handbook found at http://www.monroecc.edu/depts/mcchome/catalog/2010-11_MCC_Catalog_sect7.pdf (page 25):
"Security for personal property, including vehicles, is the studentâ€™s responsibility. Personal belongings should be removed from sight in the vehicle or removed altogether. MCC is not liable for personal property that is lost, stolen or damaged. The Collegeâ€™s insurance does not cover these types of losses. Students are encouraged to carry insurance through their own or their parentsâ€™ homeowner/tenant and automobile insurance policies. Please report all crimes to the Department of Public Safety for investigation."
While that is all common sense and could be legalese to cover MCC's behind, for $75 a semester (not including tuition and other fees), there is no mention of any kind of surveillance or legitimate help at all. However, that isn't what bothers me the most. It's the regulations and fines. After you put a chunk of cash out for one of these parking permits, you are not guaranteed a parking spot and can only park in specific areas. In addition, "drivers are responsible for finding an authorize parking space. Lack of space, mechanical problems, inclement weather or tardiness do not justify parking violations". A full list of violations and the equivalent fines can be found on page 26 of the PDF I linked to above.
While the college does need an effective way of enforcing parking laws and policies, where does this money go? Why do students have to pay extra money in the first place? Years of student government and working on budget committees has taught me well.
Since critiquing without giving an alternate solution is rude, here is a quick and short proposal. Continue collecting $75 per semester for a parking pass. Any violations have the fines deducted from the $75, like a security deposit. At the end of each semester, the remaining balance is returned to the student. If there's been more than $75 in fines, continue the usual process of obtaining fines. After one year, if a student has had a clean driving record, he/she is not required to pay the $75 up front. As a side note and observation, a little understanding and compassion for harmless mistakes would go a long way.
P.S. A 11-year old boy at work who started shoulder surfing just said "wow, they're ripping people off" when he saw the line about the $75/semester parking fee.