Parking ticket raises bigger issues

By Luke Buehler

Parking tickets. What a driving joy.

On Sept. 16, my uncle was flying home from Boise, Idaho, to see my grandparents who live in La Crescent. The flight was bound to arrive at about 1 p.m., but he wouldn’t get down to La Crescent until 4 p.m.

A friend of mine attends Winona State University in Winona, which is about 30 minutes away from La Crescent taking Interstate 90 South/SW. I decided to stop to see him for lunch. Naturally, being the incompetent person I am when it comes to finding a parking spot, I parked in the lot that read “Gold Parking,” not realizing it was meant for specific people with paid-for parking memberships. After lunch, he and I decided to go to Walmart because he wanted to get some snacks for the Vikings-Packers game on Sunday.

As we are walking out to my car, he pointed out that I parked in a restricted parking lot, and said I most likely had a ticket under my windshield wiper. I doubted him until I saw the little white and red devilish piece of paper under my windshield wiper.

Winona State University in Winona does not have a visitors’ parking lot on campus, at least to my knowledge. The ticket amount was an overpriced $15! As a college student who squeezes every dollar, I was angry. I recognized the fact that I was ignorant, and didn’t realize I had parked in the restricted parking lot. The University was also ignorant in not creating a visitors parking lot.

Once my friend and I returned from Walmart, we went straight to the second floor of Maxwell Hall (where parking tickets can be paid). The teller said I had two options:

• I could pay the $15

• I could fill out an appeals form. I filled out the form.

On Sept. 19, I received an email from Scott Bestul, the assistant director of security at Winona State University, stating that the parking ticket has been dismissed. The citation was thrown out. I didn’t have to pay the ticket!

What gets me is that full-time WSU students pay a little over $9,000 in tuition and fees for one whole academic year, according to their website, That translates into almost $25 per day for 365 days a year. One would seriously think that parking would be included in the $501.45 fee cost — but unfortunately, the WSU college administrators have other priorities than making parking a convenience for students. Not to mention that in the hot August heat, there are dorm rooms that are without air conditioning — but, of course, heat stroke doesn’t need to be of any concern to the WSU administration.  Neither does parking 40 miles away from the school to avoid being given parking ticket after parking ticket. Security gives those things out like candy it seems.

Obviously I’ll never park in the restricted parking lots again without a ridiculously expensive membership pass. But, what’s the message in all this? Why aren’t colleges like WSU truly furnishing students with practical accommodations such as free on-campus parking, and high-quality air conditioning units in all the dorms? Yet they’ll gladly take payment via a student loan of thousands of dollars as they do every year.

There’s something broken with colleges like WSU. It’s communication and priorities. Students will whine about not having practical amenities like as mentioned before, but are they communicating that with the campus officials? Wouldn’t campus officials notice the yearning for these practical amenities that the students don’t have?

I seem to recall an Italian proverb I saw on Twitter, “At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.” In other words, at the end of the day, we are all humans, no matter where we fit in our society. What if the WSU college administrators spent a whole 40 consecutive days as a WSU college student? And what if the WSU college students spent the same 40 consecutive days as college administrators? What kind of changes would the new administrators make? What kind of grievances, complaints, and riots would the new students make? Some would whine, others would keep walking silently. And realistically, both would drink away the stress and confusion.

Ask yourself, why are colleges still in place today? To deliver an education that provides students with applicable skills they need to be the best marketable people for the United States work force (even though through other means of media they have the ability to learn the same material for free)?

Or to mimic a vacuum by consuming tuition dollars via student loans while wearing a salesman’s smile and slender suits the whole time, taking advantage of the financially ignorant Hansel and Gretel students with gilded, liberal halls and buildings? Realistically, both.

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