isabella schoonover headshot

If you were to walk into my and my roommates’ apartment, the first thing you’d see would be two things taped to the walls around the entryway: a shoddy game night leaderboard written in pen on printer paper, and a growing collection of parking tickets gifted to us from NCSU Transportation.

My two roommates have contributed a few tickets each, which only accounts for this past semester when we started our cheeky ode to on-campus parking enforcement. Unspoken for are the three citations I earned in my pre-pandemic time at NC State, four if you count the warning they issue first as a prerequisite for those to come.

Each one an annoyance, these tickets always result from confusion on where to park on main campus, the inconvenience of other transportation options and a reluctance to pay for permits most of us on Hillsborough Street aren’t eligible for anyway.

While our relatively close proximity enables us to walk to campus if we want to, it’s not always practical to make the 40-minute round-trip on foot for a short stop at Talley Student Union to pick up food or books. When we ultimately decide to risk the car trip knowing parking spaces are off-limits to us, you’d be surprised at how quickly the patrol can tuck a $40 slip of paper under the windshield wipers while we pick up our Grubhub order. Yes, that happened once. Starbucks works fast, but NCSU Transportation works faster.

What’s harder to accept are the instances when we have a more legitimate reason to be on campus, like class. My roommate and I both have in-person fitness classes at the same time each week, which we ride together to Carmichael for, and each time, we are uncertain of whether we’ll make it out of the parking lot unscathed. Twice now, we haven’t, exiting the gym defeated again by that little piece of paper.

Conditions surrounding COVID-19 have only further frustrated both students and the Transportation office, with the former complaining of heightened parking restrictions when there are fewer students on campus, and the latter struggling with revenue losses due to that smaller on-campus population. 

It’s understandable, for this reason, that Transportation issues tickets to those without permits who are parked in spaces reserved for permit-holders, but something’s got to give. We need more options than the current “don’t drive to campus unless you want a ticket” operation. It’s an unrealistic standard to hold us to, and an expensive one at that.

Parking isn’t a right, by any means, and it’s a cost one should knowingly take on when they decide to own a car, but these waters are muddied when you factor the university environment into the equation. An education at NC State and the access to campus facilities that comes with it is something we already pay thousands of dollars for annually, so to ask that the parking surrounding these facilities be made “free” or “affordable” for students and staff is generous.

We only ask that the University extend the same kind of generosity.