Whatcha gonna do: When campus security comes for … your car?

A faculty van parks in a no parking zone, forcing commuters to weave into oncoming traffic. Photo by Nicole Zwartz.

A faculty van parks in a no parking zone, forcing commuters to weave into oncoming traffic. Photo by Nicole Zwartz.

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Arriving to a late class one day, senior Aviation Maintenance major Mark Wolny, decided to park in the faculty/ staff designated parking area across from Benilde simply because there were no other close parking spots. Wolny discovered an unexpected gift placed under his windshield wiper after class.

“I was only there for an hour and was ticketed,” he said.

He is not the only one to have been given a ticket at Lewis University for a parking violation.

Sophomore resident Allison Schieffer also received a parking ticket this semester after parking in a commuter lot.

“During the week, it is hard to find spots in the residential lots,” said Schieffer. “Some students who commute and lived on campus last semester, park in the resident lots and don’t get ticketed.”

The Lewis campus security is not a sworn police department, so they cannot issue citations such as failure to stop or speeding. If a car is suspected of these violations, then the security will cite the vehicle after it has stopped or will write a report if they leave the campus. Most of these citations, then, involve parking defiance.

Each semester, campus security issues about 3000 tickets, according to Thomas Burgess, associate director of Campus Security. Patrols are done 24- hours a day, either on foot, in vehicles or on bikes.

“During the day, there is a greater focus on commuter and faculty/staff parking lots because of the increased usage during that time,” Burgess said. “After business hours (10 p.m.), we do have a greater focus on resident lots because they are typically the only individuals still on campus; we still patrol the other lots for safety reasons and compliance.”
There are currently 13 full-time shift supervisors and 25 student dispatchers on staff for campus security. Residents and commuters have different stickers on their back windows, and visitors and faculty/staff have their own form of registration. If a vehicle is not registered, it will simply receive a citation. Vehicles are checked with the security’s parking permit database, and if they are not registered, then security works with the local law enforcement to determine if the individual is a student or a visitor. The Village of Romeoville and Lewis have a written agreement on traffic and parking enforcement on campus.

However, is there a greater issue with parking at Lewis than only enforcing laws?

“There is not enough parking, especially by the aviation building,” said senior Aviation Administration major, Jose Munlz. “I received a ticket for parking in usually empty faculty parking spots or commuter parking after hours.”

It seems there are more students than parking at Lewis but what about faculty?  Are they receiving special treatment?

“What makes them above us?” Munlz questioned.

Dr. David Anderson, Chair of the Communications department, commented that faculty should not have to pay for any parking violations because “many have to get here later in the day when parking is more difficult.”

He also believes that there is currently plenty of parking for students in remote areas, and students are young and able to walk a further distance to classes.
“If a faculty member cannot get parking within a reasonable distance, then the class they are teaching will either start late or not at all,” said Dr. Valerie Vander Vliet, Chairperson, biology. “The same cannot be said for a student in that class.”

Vander Vliet agrees with Munlz about the current parking situation at Lewis. “Yes, there is a problem with faculty parking. We have actually had the number of designated spaces for faculty parking decrease, even though, the number of full-time, part-time and adjunct faculty has increased.”

She is more sympathetic to those remote areas that students have to walk from their cars, though. “There always seems to be parking spaces, but they are quite a distance away. Maybe a shuttle system from these distant lots would solve some of the problems.”

Parking fines can range from $20 dollars for permit violations to $250 dollars for parking in a handicapped spot. Citations are sent to the business office and are placed on the student’s tuition account. Those who do not pay their bill are responsible for the business office’s policies and procedures for unpaid bills.

Additional information about campus security rules and regulations and parking can be found on the Lewis Web site, www.lewisu.edu/security.

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