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Parking issue unresolved at Waldorf College

The visitor parking areas are often locations misused creating parking issues at Waldorf College. Photo by Andrew Larsen

The visitor parking areas are often locations misused creating parking issues at Waldorf College. Photo by Andrew Larsen

By Andrew Larsen

Parking has become an issue not only for Waldorf College but for the surrounding community. Student life officers, Waldorf security and a private investigator hand out parking tickets to students on a daily basis.

“30 violations are issued per week,” student life administrative coordinator Anna Moklestad said. “We ticket 24 hours a day… it could be at anytime during the day.”

The most common parking mistakes occur when students park in the admissions visitor parking lot, located between Thorson & Rasmusson Halls off South 6th Street. This parking lot is reserved for potential students and visitors of the campus between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., overnight parking is also not allowed in this lot. This lot is one of the most common mistakes because students who live off campus park in this lot for its easy access to Thorson Hall.

The other most common parking mistake takes place in the Employee/Visitor Parking Lot, located south of the Campus Information Center (CIC). This lot is reserved for employees and visitors of the college between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., overnight parking is also not allowed in this lot. Students park in this lot because of its proximity to the CIC which holds the Campus Dining Center.

To help combat the on campus issues of parking the school provides everyone a brochure that explains in detail the rules of parking, the cost of permits and the fines if you do not comply with these rules. Brochures are also available to download on the Waldorf website.

“At check in I explain where they have to park. I explain that they need to put their permit on their window and put it on the right way,” Moklestad said. “If it’s not put on the right way officers don’t see it and just assume this car doesn’t have a permit and then the student gets a ticket.”

Permits are available for purchase anytime during the year and students will be assigned a parking lot based on where they live on campus or if they are a commuter student. Permits cost $25 for the semester and $50 for the year. J&L residents must park in the gravel field house parking lot, Breen residents park at the water tower parking lot, Ormseth residents park in the Ormseth/Commuter lot and Timberland residents can park in their lot as well as the Ormseth/Commuter lot because they are located near the Denny Jerome Athletic Center (DJAC). Anybody caught in the wrong lot will be ticketed.

These strict parking lot assignments cause frustration for many students who want to drive and visit a dorm where they aren’t allowed to park.

“I feel that if we are paying to go to school here then we have the right to park in any of the lots that the school owns,” senior Maggie Hawley said. “I would rather get a ticket from the police for parking on the street too late because that would be cheaper then getting a ticket from the school for parking in the wrong lot.”

If students get ticketed they must report to the office of student life to pay their $15 fine within 10 days or else the fine increases to $20 and will be applied to their student account. If a student receives four tickets or more a boot may be placed on the vehicle for a 24 hour period. The student must pay off all fines before the boot is removed and an additional $40 fine will be added.

The money received from these tickets goes towards the general fund the school has. The money helps maintain the parking lots, hire security and purchase signs, permits and ticket books.

However, there is an appeal process for students who feel they have been wrongly ticketed. Students must come to the student life office within 10 days to fill out an appeal form before it goes to a committee of student life staff. If a student comes in a month after the ticket is issued they won’t likely get to appeal.

“Not very often do we grant appeal if it’s been that long,” Moklestad said.

However, if the appeal process is started early there is a good chance the student will have the ticket waived because not all student life staff know the specifics of the parking policies.

“There is a lot of times, it seems like 50-75 percent of the time, the students appeal will be granted or the fine will be reduced,” Moklestad said.

The issue isn’t just contained to the Waldorf College campus, many commuter or off campus students don’t buy parking passes and must search for a free public parking spot. The result is parking in the lots of businesses located closest to campus.

“Most days I struggle to find a spot and have to park far away. A lot of days I just park in the court house lot,” commuter student Rachel Lynch said. “There are quite a few people who commute, even from just in town, that have a hard time finding parking. We’re already paying tuition. It would be nice to have a free parking lot for commuters who don’t need somewhere to park their car long term, just a few hours a week.”

This can cause problems for business’s like Hardee’s, Subway and the Winnebago County Courthouse.

“I don’t mind if they [students] park all the way on the end, towards the back, but they park like right on the corner across from the college and that’s where a lot of our elderly people like to park so their up close,” Jennifer Fajht general manager at Hardee’s said.

“We just have such limited parking as it is,” Susan Thoreson Subway store manager said. “It really effects the business.”

“Sometimes elderly people have to park out on the street and walk clear around and that’s what I’m trying to avoid,” Karla Weiss county auditor said.

Some of these business’s have spoken with the school about the problem of students parking in their lots during regular business hours. Unfortunately the college has no control of their lots, but tries to send out email reminders to students to not park in these lots.

“The best we can do is alert students that this is becoming an issue,” Moklestad said. “We tell them [businesses] I’m sorry but we’re not going to ticket your lot. If you feel that it’s a problem you either start issuing tickets or towing because that’s the most efficient way to get rid of that problem.”

Each business also has their own way of trying to combat the issue, and some might pursue stiffer consequences if it continues.

“I’ve put notes on the cars and it doesn’t seem to help, so I think going to just start towing cars,” Fajht said.

“I haven’t really contacted the college. What we usually do is put a note under the windshield wiper saying this is Subway parking only and if you park here again your car will be towed,” Thoreson said.

The courthouse usually hands out tickets but are looking for other measures to take in order to reduce the amount of students parking in their lot.

“We’ve talked about… having more signs, giving more tickets and having someone watching more carefully” said Weiss.

However, students have an easier time parking in the courthouse lot because the sign posted is vague enough for students to get away with parking in the lot.

“My office gives some of the tickets and I’ve told the people in my office, you can’t give them a ticket unless you actually see them walking across the street or walking someplace else other than into the courthouse,” Weiss said.

In the future students should be on the look out for harsher punishment from local businesses due to the continuation of disobeying parking parameters.