by Page Forrest
Having a car on campus can be convenient – especially if you live in Gorgas, or are not willing to rely on other people for rides to the Piggly-Wiggly. According to many students, what’s not so convenient are the rigorous parking specifications students are expected to follow. “I stopped bringing my car to school with me just because I wasted so much money on parking fees I had no idea I was accruing,” said Jack Russell (C’17).
The parking fees can definitely add up. For a first offense, car owners are fined anywhere between $10 and $25, depending on the violation. For a second violation, car owners are charged the initial fine, plus a further $50. Third and subsequent offenses have an added $100 charge. With the large amounts of funds collected each year, students are naturally curious as to where all the money goes. Shawn Gibson, Sewanee’s Accounts Receivable Manager, explained that the money goes to various departments of the University, including the Police Department, the Dean of Students’ office, and the School of Theology. The money is distributed to the different departments according to who received the ticket – i.e. the fine from a ticket given to a member of the School of Theology would go towards the School of Theology’s budget. All of the money stays within the University. The parking ticket money does not go towards any specific project, but rather, just enters into the University’s overall operating budget. From there, budget officers determine how the money will be used.
Many students have conspiracy theories they have built up around where the money goes. An anonymous student said, “I was convinced that all the money went towards new trucks for the Police Officers.” While it is certainly possible that the money allotted to the Police Department may have contributed to that, there is no apparent hidden agenda behind parking tickets to fund new vehicles. While students may be dismayed at the money they are shelling out for parking fines, they may take comfort in that the money has been put back into the University, and will hopefully benefit their education in a more indirect fashion.