On the eve of this academic year, Public Safety implemented a pilot program that allows students to participate in parking enforcement. Public Safety is now hiring students to patrol and give out parking tickets to parking policy violators.
According to the Swarthmore parking guide website, between 7:00 am and 3:30 pm, visitors may either park in the visitors’ section of the Benjamin West Lot, or in signed Visitor spaces in the Fieldhouse House Lot and the Whittier Lot. On the other hand, students have to apply for a parking permit to use designated parking lots. With a newly built Cunningham parking lot, students are now only officially permitted to park in either Cunningham or Mary Lyon. Lastly, parkers must obey the parking signs. Public Safety Officers and now students hired by the office issue parking tickets to people who park where they are not supposed to, and to people who did not obey the parking signs. But enforcing a policy in such a large scale isn’t without difficulty.
“Enforcing parking can be difficult to do effectively or consistently since it is not the primary focus of our patrol efforts,” wrote Mike Hill, the Director of Public Safety, in an email. “With BEP construction and the consolidation of student parking in the Cunningham South lot, I felt that hiring students would be a good opportunity to improve our enforcement efforts and to create a new student employment opportunity.” Interested students can apply to be parking patrol officers by emailing Sam Smemo, the Associate Director of Public Safety Operations.
Director Hill hopes that the community will appreciate a new student employment opportunity, while better enforcing parking rules and regulations, especially where there is limited parking space.
However, the new policy isn’t without student opposition. Some students feel as though the ticketing policy have negligible, if any consequences at all.
“I just don’t think it’s very effective, it’s pretty unclear what happens if you do or do not pay [the ticket] …somebody told me recently that if I don’t pay them it just gets taken out of my account… it’s kind of been at least in my mind like a running joke of Swarthmore like everyone gets parking tickets” said Casey Lu Simon-Plumb ’18.
Other students feel as though the power position allotted to student patrol officers creates an undesirable atmosphere among the student community. “I just take issue with like having students that have so much power to reprimand another student in any way shape or form,” said Chris Malafronti ’17. Simon-Plumb agreed that the power dynamic among students the policy create is significant.
“If [the student patrols are] friends that I know, and like they know it’s my car, it just adds in weird dynamics… it creates an awkward situation in terms of my relationship to them because it is their job to enforce this [policy], but it’s to their friends.”
Some students may feel as though the policy is unrealistically inconvenient. Visitors may take up parking spaces during the daytime, but the parking lots are generally empty during the night.
“It would be easy if, at night, students could park [in the empty parking lots], but I guess it’s hard to enforce a more nuanced policy,” said Simon-Plumb. Some students, such as Malafronti, feel like the parking policy has been taken too seriously, and is too restrictive. “What if I park by Kohlberg for like an hour and then my parking lot is in Cunningham, but I was just doing something?” said Simon-Plumb.
The pilot policy isn’t perfect, but has been instituted based on good intentions. Though there may be some disagreement, since the policy is still being tested, there could be room for adjustment and negotiation.