By Casey Chafin | The Duquesne Duke
After receiving hundreds of dollars in fines for parking on campus between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., Duquesne commuter students are awaiting a response from the Office of Parking and Traffic Management about whether or not they will receive the same parking permissions as resident students.
This semester, the parking office and Duquesne Police began enforcing a rule that prohibits students with commuter parking passes from parking on campus between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Scott Richards, executive director of Auxiliary Services for Duquesne, said, “The policy has been in place for many years and has been unsystematically enforced. This year the decision was made to be consistent in enforcing it.”
“What I just don’t understand is, why can’t I park overnight?” said Emily Pollock, 20, psychology major. “Because it’s not like there’s more people there overnight. There’s probably less people parked there overnight. It’s not like I’m taking up spots for people who are strictly parking overnight.”
Parking passes for commuters cost the same as resident parking passes, according to Richards. Student garage parking passes cost $1,172 for an annual permit, $758 for an academic school-year permit, and $426 for a semester permit.
There are many reasons why a student living off campus may need to stay overnight, according to Pollock.
Commuters who choose to park their cars on campus overnight risk receiving a $25 ticket for the first offense, and $50 for every subsequent offense.
Miller Goughneour, president of Duquesne Commuter Council, said he has already received a fine this semester for parking past the authorized hours. Although he lives off campus, he occasionally likes to stay late on his fraternity’s wing in Towers.
“I feel like one of the biggest problems was the way the parking department went about distributing the information, [not] letting commuter students know that this is a rule, that this is going to be enforced,” Goughneour said. “There are still students on campus that I’m sure do not know about this policy.”
Justin Morden, vice president of Commuter Council, agreed that students who purchased the parking passes were not made aware of the rule.
“The policy was not even stated on any of the forms the commuters signed this summer when buying their parking passes,” Morden said, “although this has been changed in the newer forms.”
Compared side-by-side, the old form makes no mention of any disparity between commuter passes and resident passes, but in the new form, available on the Duquesne website, several new lines are added which read, “No commuter permit holder is permitted to park any vehicle on Duquesne University property between the hours of 2:00 a.m. through 5:00 a.m.”
According to Morden, the old applications were in until August.
Goughneour said the Commuter Council met with Richards and Denise Iuzzolino from the parking office last week, and the council was able to voice the concerns of the more than 20 students who sent in emails about the policy.
Morden said several complaints the council received include nursing majors who work overnight at hospitals, and students who work late shifts as desk aides or in the Campus Market.
Pollock said if commuters are not allowed to park overnight, the university should lower the price of commuter parking passes.
Morden agreed, saying it is only fair that Duquesne at least refunds the commuters for the time the students cannot park there, which is 12.5 percent less than resident students.
“The biggest question commuters are asking us and the parking office is, why are we paying the same amount as residents for a parking pass when we have fewer parking privileges?” he said.
Pollock said the problem also goes beyond money, and is a matter of student safety.
“I don’t want to make this sound like it’s just about drinking, but that’s a huge thing,” she said. “Because if you’re 21, it’s a weekend, you’re drinking with your friends, you can’t be parked here overnight. So does Duquesne want you to drive home?”
Goughneour said Parking and Traffic Management “seemed receptive” during their meeting, and Commuter Council is waiting to hear back on what will happen moving forward.