With a significant number of staff and student drivers on campus who rely on their vehicles to get around the mountainous campus, there is no shortage of mixed experiences with Lehigh’s Parking Services.
Students are often faced with the inability to find a secure and legitimate parking space that is close enough to academic buildings, which typically results in students parking in an unauthorized location, leading to the ticketing of the vehicle.
“I feel as students we pay so much money but have limited spaces to park throughout campus,” Ralph Jean-Noel, ’15, said. “Parking passes are also ridiculously expensive. I wish there was a payment plan for students who have and need a car on campus but can’t afford to pay the full cost upfront.”
Every student and staff member that intends to park anywhere on campus is required to have a Lehigh University parking permit, and this permit can be purchased through Parking Services. Other local colleges such as Moravian University and Muhlenberg College utilize a similar system for their students, often requiring the students to purchase their school’s corresponding parking permit.
According to the Parking Services homepage, vehicles that are parked or operated on Lehigh’s campus must be registered with the office and a valid parking permit must be shown, whether it is regularly or temporarily. Visitors can either pay for parking at a meter or utilize the Zoellner Arts Center parking garage. Visitors do not have to display a permit, but may obtain one from the office. Temporary parking permits can also be purchased at Parking Services on the first floor of Johnson Hall.
One policy the office offers to drivers on campus is the appeals process. Any driver that receives a ticket or fine has the opportunity to appeal the parking violation. Some students said they find this process “unappealing.” A way to remedy the bitter relationship between Parking Services and the students is to simply follow the rules of parking correctly and in a timely manner. Parking Services actually protects students from the higher parking fines of the city of Bethlehem.
Parking Services considers appeals on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature of the fine.
“Violations are cumulative during each academic year and all violations subsequent to the third are assessed at $50.00 for each time observed and ticketed, or the fine stated in this section, whichever is higher,” according to the Parking Services policy.
“We see many students get multiple tickets a week,” said Sharon Field, the manager of Parking Services.
Many students do not get their appeals approved due to the timing or lack thereof.
“The problem with the appeals process is that it only gives you two weeks to file an appeal,” Max Schaufeld, ’17, said. “In my particular case, I was given tickets that were pre-dated three weeks prior to when they were put on my car, giving me no chance to appeal them whatsoever. If in fact, this were changed to some longer period of time or even completely abolished, I would have a more positive outlook towards Lehigh Parking Services.”
Jean-Noel said there should be a better system for student parking, especially during inclement weather.
“I think parking tickets are so expensive,” he said. “To have to pay $50 for a parking fine is absolutely asinine and is an unfair burden to place on college students, some of who are living off of work study wages.”
Lehigh has a set cost for parking infractions and this money goes back to the institution, therefore helping with various things such as endowment and financial aid.