Parking fines are often unaccounted for -- and resented -- student expenses on college campuses. This makes the staff position of parking monitor less than popular.
Latoni Hopson has been on both sides, as a recent University of Richmond graduate and the current parking monitor for UR's Parking Services.
Hopson graduated in 2018 and began working as the parking monitor in August. Nevertheless, Hopson is not new to Parking Services, as she also worked there during her four years as a student on campus.
Hopson said she did not find that there was an adjustment switching from a student to a member of the staff, but she did describe some differences.
As a student, Hopson focused on getting to class on time and didn’t pay much attention to what else was happening on campus, she said. That has changed since she started at Parking Services.
“Seeing what goes on outside the classroom, as far as events or random things that go on, is serious as a staff member to take into consideration people's safety and knowing what is going on,” she said.
Parking Services deals with appeals to tickets often, and guidance is offered for writing an appeal on the Parking Services website. From the time Hopson began her position at the beginning of August to the beginning of October, 1,234 parking tickets had been distributed, according to information released by Parking Services. Students have appealed 178 of these tickets, according to the information.
According to Parking Services, there are five categories that appeals are placed in by the appeals board, which has met three times this semester.
"Pending" means waiting to be heard by the board.
"Granted" means that the appeal has been accepted. There is no fine, and the ticket does not count into the student's accumulation for the semester.
"Warned" clears the monetary fine, but the ticket does count toward a semester accumulation.
"Denied" is when an appeal was unsuccessful, and the driver is responsible for completing the payment.
"Void" means the citation is voided because it may have been written in error, or there was a prior parking arrangement.
There have been 16 voided tickets since the beginning of the semester, when Hopson started. Jessica Dugan said she received a ticket while parked in U24, the lot outside her apartment that all on-campus seniors are eligible to park in.
“I thought it was so strange," Dugan, a senior, said. "I had my sticker on the car and my sticker from last year, too. This was my assigned lot, so it should have been clear that I could park there.”
Dugan appealed the ticket. The appeal was never addressed, but Dugan did not receive a notice to pay Parking Services, she said.
In regard to appealing tickets, Hopson said it was an option, but disclosed it wouldn’t always help.
“We take pictures," Hopson said. "You can clearly see the signs and clearly see where the car is parked. There is no debate as to whether you were parked there or not."
Students have also expressed frustration about the reasons they are getting ticketed. Anthony Santiago, a junior, said he believed having only one parking option on campus was limiting.
“When it is 9 a.m. in a snowstorm and I park in an empty lot for an hour and fifteen minutes, coming outside to a ticket is a little frustrating,” Santiago said.
Students tend to run the risk of parking in a lot they are not registered for and seeing whether they will get a ticket. Students have even been known to warn others of the location of the parking monitor's red car, but Hopson was firm that this would not work anymore.
“It is your responsibility to know the rules and regulations," she said. "We may not get you then that day, but eventually we will. It will catch up to you.”
Contact senior features writer Louise Howorth at email@example.com.