Students frustrated with College’s handling of parking violations

Students and Colby Security are often at odds with one another over parking violations and student car towings. The major points of contention seem to be the way Security notifies students about their cars being towed and the high fees charged by tow companies. 

A number of students have shared their experiences and frustrations with the Echo, including Molly Smith `21, whose car was towed after leaving it in the Mary Low parking lot over President’s Day weekend.

“I got called at midnight, while I was asleep, by Security saying, ‘you need to move your car now or we will’, but I was asleep, so I couldn’t and didn’t get the message until morning. I went straight to campus on the shuttle at 8:00 a.m., but it was already gone,” Smith said.

Smith found this frustrating due to the short notice she received from Security before her car was towed. Campus Life sent an email to the student body on Thursday requesting that all cars be moved out of the Mary Low parking lot by 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. Smith did not see this email, and was unaware that her car needed to be moved. 

This was just the beginning of an expensive and disruptive process for Smith, who had to attend a family event in Connecticut. 

“I got a friend to drive me to the tow company at 9:30 and they were closed for the weekend, so not only did they take our cars but they took them without giving us a way to get them back that weekend.” 

Smith was further inconvenienced because she had medication in her car. “When they take cars, they don’t know what’s inside,” Smith said.

Smith was unhappy with the lack of notification from Security, but took even more issue with the way the tow company handled the situation and the towing fee. Smith “started following different tow trucks to their locations” in order to find her car.

After locating it, she “went up to the tow driver and said ‘you need to give me my car please’ and he said, ‘yeah, for an extra fifty bucks’. So I got fifty bucks taken straight into his pocket [sic] just so I could get my car back. That was on top of the 100 they charge anyway, so 150 total.”

Smith was not the only student who ran into issues with extreme towing and storage fees. Carson Ford `23 came back to school at 9:20 a.m. the morning after JanPlan break for her 10 a.m. class.

At the Bob’s lot, “I drove around for ten minutes trying to find a parking spot and there was not a single one available, so I parked in the dead worst teacher spot to try to be polite to the situation, and then I left my car there for three days because I forgot it was in a teacher spot.”

When she returned to his car, it had been towed. “Mind you, my car is registered, they have my plates, they know whose car it is,” she said. 

Ford said that she was not notified that her car had been towed, “so by the time I figured out my car was towed and could go get it, it had racked up fees and cost two hundred and forty dollars to get it freed. There were also three tickets from Security on my car when I went to pick it up.”

Ford felt that the whole situation could have been avoided with an email from security informing her that her car would be towed. 

“If the they had told me, I could have got it immediately, but they didn’t tell me even though my car is registered,” Ford said.

She also felt that the lack of available parking on campus played into the issue: “I pay for a parking pass, which means there will be a spot for me to park my car in, but there are no spots.”

Similar experiences with tow companies and security’s ticketing practices are not uncommon at the College. An anonymous first year spoke about the experiences they had with parking on campus. They have received eleven tickets so far this year. 

“Security will give you a ticket anywhere; your car could be in Los Angeles and they will ticket you,” they said.

This individual recalled an experience with a tow truck driver who was in the process of towing their car. “I was walking up to my car, and found that it was halfway loaded onto a tow truck. I asked the driver not to tow my car because I was present and could move it. He said ‘okay, that’ll be one hundred dollars cash’, which upon handing to him he put directly into his wallet,” they said. 

This incident has not been the end of this student’s parking troubles, as they have found themself unable to pay his tickets from the school. The student offered to write tickets for security in order to pay off their own parking fines, as a form of  poetic justice. 

“I’ll do whatever you need me to do to pay off some parking tickets,” the student said in an email to security.

The student has an upcoming meeting with head of security Bob Williams regarding this offer.

Others are frustrated with how parking violations are handled by the College. The lack of communication with students about towed cars was a common theme, and many expressed that faster notification could alleviate much of the issue.

The other major issue was the way it seemed that some tow drivers seek to profit off of students. 

This attitude applies to security’s ticketing practices as well; it is common sentiment that the school is using parking violations as a revenue stream. Students feel security should focus on other methods of raising money that don’t involve inconveniencing students and taking their time and money. 

Students agreed that increasing available parking spaces could solve most of these problems. Regardless, in order to find a resolution, there must be a dialogue between students and security. 

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