There is one group of people on MSU’s campus it’s ok to hate. Students stare them down and parents curse them. These enforcers of MSU’s perplexing parking spaces are easy to spot in their silver “parking services” trucks, yet what service they offer is not as easy to comprehend.

Silver parking trucks make students cringe (photo credit: Emily Lawler).

Almost every student can tell you their own horror story about how they have been wrongly fined by the overzealous citation police.  It seems as if all students have to deal with them, constantly looking over their shoulder, in fear that while unloading their car a ticket will be planted on their windshield.

It is an understatement to say that MSU’s campus is not car friendly. Every year MSU cuts back on the number open spaces.  It’s not only students, my parents have received multiple tickets and my friends fear to visit me because they know that on top of beer money they have to save for the fines they will inevitably incur.  My car has not been spared. I won’t say that none of the tickets I have received since August have all been wrongfully given, but I believe that at least one of them was unfair.

I was making some mac and cheese at my apartment off-campus when I got a call from my girlfriend asking me to come get her after she’d fallen off her bike.  Abandoning my lunch, I drove to where she said she was waiting for me.  As I pulled up I was shocked to see an ambulance and a police car.  She had gotten her foot stuck in her bike spokes and nose-dived into the pavement. I took her to Olin to get some x-rays.

As I pulled into Olin I saw the meters but decided I had to get her and her swollen foot in before I could worry about the meter.  I carried her in, got her to a room and went to feed the meter my hard-earned dollars. It couldn’t have been more than ten minutes, but already there was a telltale white ticket stuck to my windshield.

I took my ticket out from under the wiper and put all of the change I had in the meter to avoid getting another.  I was happy to find out that my girlfriend would not need a cast but the ticket in my pocket and my empty stomach made me a little nauseous.

The ticket had upset me but I was sure that I could appeal it. I explained what had happened in the online form, and was shocked when I got an email back saying that my appeal had been denied. I called the Parking Services at the MSU Police Department to no avail. I wanted to speak to an appeal officer but she said that it was not allowed to and that the next step would be to ask to have the East Lansing 54b court hear my case.

I decided to suck it up and pay the fine, making me feel even more like I had been taken advantage of.

I tell that story to friends of mine and we are often able to share in our harrowing stories of parking tickets.  Some of those friends who run deliveries have told me that when dropping off an order they are supposed to get fifteen minutes to make their delivery, but they often receive tickets anyways.  They do not always get the paper ticket, only a letter in the mail informing them their payment is late.

As much as I get frustrated with the parking services I know that parking tickets are a necessary evil in every city.  On a campus where there are so many people and so few parking spaces it is important to keep people from abusing the system, but there needs to be more compassion.  I am proud to be a Spartan, and it seems to be in my blood that when ever I see the tiny silver trucks with a yellow light on top I get the urge to flip things over.

6 thoughts on “Letter: Parking Services Need Compassion”

  1. This is great Jer! I can see that not much has changed in the last 10 years since I was there. I’m afraid to admit to how much of my hard earned Starbucks money was spent on parking tickets. Dang those silver trucks!!

  2. Kristin, as the story goes I thought that your dad had to pay thousands of dollars in stacked up parking fines… Who does get their foot stuck in a bike?

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