The Parking Plague: Students Hit With Fines While Teachers Ride Free

It is the morning of May 8th, 2017, 8:18 AM. Frantically, I am searching through the student and overflow parking lot searching for a space to park my vehicle. I have no such luck. I come to the realization that I only have two options: park illegally and get to my class on time, or continue my lengthy search for a parking spot, most likely off school grounds, and be subjected to a detention.

At approximately 10:30 the same morning, senior Eric Solomon and I receive a call down from the office — we both lock eyes and immediately know what the summon is for. Upon our entrance to the office we are berated by the administrative assistant, who states that there will be more drastic consequences for future parking violations, seemingly taking pleasure in this warning. It is confounding how the school is threatening to take further action of this offense beyond the fine received.

Upon our walk out to the overflow lot, we are met with a sea of orange tickets of fellow students who are parked illegally. Nearly 10 cars are flagged down with the marking ticket, each paying a hefty $25 fine for “04: Restricted Place or Prohibited Area.”

However, beyond the parking violations the students are committing, an even greater problem lies.

I took it upon myself to investigate the ongoing situation, requesting a car pass from the administrative office to survey the lots during Monday’s lunch block; the findings were infuriating: Five vehicles parked in the faculty lot were parked illegally, yet collectively received zero violations. This makes it abundantly clear that law enforcement is clearly looking the other way on teacher parking, yet cracking down on student parking problems: a clear act of injustice.

When I approached the school administration with questions of my offense, they provided no help or alternative solutions. Principal Sean Bevan acknowledged that a problem exists and is only growing greater each day. The only potential solution brought up by Bevan and Vice Principal Nicole Haberman was the fact that Student Legislation is planning on changing the language in the student handbook next year, but they failed to provide any specifics beyond that. Upon my inquisition as to why teachers are not receiving fines, they responded by saying that Law Enforcement has “green-lighted” teachers parking in these areas.

Simply put: teachers are permitted to openly engage in what would be considered a clear violation.

Yet, I can’t help but dispute this ineffable logic. The parking problem is a unilateral situation; both teachers and students are severely disrupted by this. So why can the teachers ride free? Those who believe that parking is a privilege for students and a necessity for teachers are wrong. Such logic fails to consider the fact that driving to school is many students’ only option; they have no other means to get here. In the opinion of senior Eric Solomon, another student who received this unjust fine: “If I can’t park on school grounds, am I supposed to park in front of someone’s house or what?”

Bevan vaguely addressed this issue on a school-wide email sent out on March 29. In it, he states, “We have a finite number of parking spots, and we cannot add any more. So, parking is and will continue to be a challenge.” He goes on to reiterate, “I fully recognize that parking is a challenge and that finding parking at school can be frustrating! Please plan your arrival to school accordingly to avoid beginning your school day feeling rushed and frustrated.” In addition to parking in the student lot and the teacher lot, he states that students may engage in street parking, assuming they observe all parking signs. Yet this inconvenient and inefficient solution is only temporary. Each day, more and more students are acquiring their licenses and driving to school, and less and less spaces become available.

This blatant and frustrating issue only grows greater by the day. It is time for the administration to begin seeking immediate solutions. Rather than waiting till next year to revise the student handbook, I propose that the school only permits upperclassman to park in school lots, and any underclassman may use street parking. But in the meanwhile, Bevan advises that students plan accordingly for parking and should adjust their schedules in order to make it on time to school.

Evan Smith

Evan Smith is a senior at Westwood High School. He is active in the school's journalism class and is continuously looking to uncover all hidden truths for the schools most pressing stories. Evan enjoys his hamburgers with ketchup, lettuce, and onions - no pickles.

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