Parking Division shifts focus

By Tyler Davis, @TDavis_DE

The SIU Parking Division has increased its number of citations given after 4 p.m. and students are not happy about it.

Eli Epplin, assistant coordinator of the Parking Division, said the department added a second-shift parking agent to enforce regulations after 4 p.m. Parking citations given between 4 p.m. and midnight swelled by more than 500 percent—from 86 in January 2014 to 460 in January 2015, according to an Excel file provided by the division.

While the late afternoon and evening parking citations have gone up, overall citations were down in January compared to last year. There were 1,501 tickets given in January 2015 compared to 2,267 in January 2014.

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The second-shift officer was already on staff, working during the day. The division took one of the three daytime agents and switched one to the late afternoon and evening shift, Epplin said. 

Epplin said part of this decision was to increase revenue for division but there were safety concerns as well. He said without any grant money or university funding, the department has to create revenue some way.

The division made $1.9 million in revenue in fiscal year 2013-14, with $758,000 coming from citations, according to an email from Epplin. The most frequently issued ticket was for vehicles without a legal decal—a $35 violation.

“With the nighttime agents, it’s going to cause people who didn’t have decals to purchase a decal of some sort so that would generate some revenue,” he said. “Technically [revenue] is part of it but the primary concern is with the safety on campus.”

Some of the safety concerns include illegal parallel parking on streets where cross-traffic visibility is limited. He said people parking in areas designated for emergency or university vehicles is also a reason for the increased attention to afterhours parking.

But for nearly empty lots, like the one north of the Communications Building, many students are wondering why the ticket implementation has been revved up. 

Alexus Travis, a senior from Oakland, Calif., studying healthcare management, said she was given a ticket for parking in a another area where she had been parking for months without a citation.

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“I got a ticket for not having the proper decal while parking in the Student Center lot when I was at work,” Travis said.

While she admits she did not have a decal, Travis said he had been working and parking there for nearly a semester without any warning of the increased enforcement.

When asked Feb. 3 about initial reports of more parking citations during evening hours, SIU Police Chief Ben Newman did not comment and referred the Daily Egyptian to a university webpage. The webpage stated afterhour parking tickets were given by police officers—not the division—and failed to mention there is another parking agent.

Epplin said the responsibility has shifted to allow police officers to focus on maintaining campus safety.

Calls, voicemails and emails to Newman asking for comment about other potential changes were unanswered.

Although citation administration has changed, Adam Fager, a customer service representative and student worker supervisor, said the rules and regulations for parking have been in place since at least 1987.

But that does not satisfy most students, who said they were made aware of the increased enforcement by tickets on their windshields.

Sawsan Kahil, a sophomore from Carbondale studying accounting, said it is unfair to issue the tickets without informing students there was a change.

“I had no idea they were giving out tickets after 4:30 p.m., but I think that’s pretty bogus,” he said. “Most of the staff and visitors don’t come by after 4:30 p.m., so that should be available for students.”

Matt Neumann, a sophomore from St. Louis studying engineering, agreed, saying parking should be open after 4:30 p.m. He said tickets need to be given to illegal parkers but not if no one is harmed by the infraction.

Epplin said the change is not specifically meant for victimless parking violations, and those with decals have plenty of options to park on campus after 4:30 p.m. 

He said other methods of enforcing rules were considered but the only way to get students to adhere to the regulations is with a parking employee. 

“People don’t listen to signs as much as if we have an agent out there,” he said.

Epplin said the division plans to use the funds to repave and repaint on-campus lots but there is no definitive start date to the improvements. New lighting is also in the works but he said there is no projected cost for the renovations, as the division has yet to contract the repairs.

For those who want to avoid a fine and do not have a decal, a yellow one can be purchased for $27 and covers the rest of spring semester and summer.  There are also one-day visitor passes available for $3 at the Parking Division office.

Tyler Davis can be reached at [email protected]

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