The University of Maryland DOTS held a discussion with students Thursday, focusing on parking citation complaints and allowing students to provide feedback.
The discussion centered on parking citations with students, knowing that the issue is a “pain point” for them, Department of Transportation Services spokeswoman Cara Fleck said.
While fewer than 10 students attended the hour-long dialogue, most of the attendees actively contributed to the discussion.
Senior nutritional science major Aubrey Morrone said that while she thinks the discussion could have been less focused on individual parking complaints, the low turnout of the event allowed her to provide more of her own input.
“I hope that they continue to do events like that, because I think that it was a very open discussion,” Morrone said. “I felt like I was heard.”
During the event, students said that they wanted more clarification on parking policies and raised concerns over ticket costs. Some said they were unaware of the parking rules before they were ticketed.
Parking violation fees range from $15 to $500, for infractions including parking in a non-assigned area, improperly displaying a permit and illegally using a disability permit.
Students proposed some solutions — which DOTS Executive Director David Allen said he would look into — such as increasing the cost of parking permits to reduce the cost of citations. Another solution was to create an algorithm that would modify the price of a ticket based on factors such as repeat offenders or whether the student has a permit in the lot.
Allen helped clarify individual questions about parking policies, emphasizing that exceptions like allowing some freshmen to have a car on campus can usually be made by contacting DOTS.
One reason for the exceptions in appeal decisions is because students are making the decisions independently from DOTS, Allen said. Giving students authority over reviewing tickets “maintains the integrity of the system,” although the consistency of the reviews can be worked on, he said. Allen offered to personally speak with some of the students about their parking complaints.
Last year, 58,872 parking citations were issued to students, visitors, faculty and staff, about 26 percent of which were appealed, according to the DOTS 2017 annual report. Additionally, 6,740 student parking violation appeals were reviewed, and more than half of these parking violations were either voided or reduced, according to the report.
The discussion was the second event in a series of public forums called DOTS Dialogues, which aim to discuss campus transportation with students, faculty and staff. In the previous dialogue, hosted March 5, DOTS announced that student parking near Cole Field House will be reduced by more than 250 spaces next semester.
Senior physiology and neurobiology major Destan Scott, a commuter student, attended the event because he said he was unsure why he was ticketed last semester and complained that the amount of parking citations issued by DOTS can be excessive.
“They probably ticket people too much,” Scott said. “For me it hasn’t been too bad, but I’ve heard from a lot of other people that they’ve been screwed a lot.”