By: Kathryn Jakuback
It is a truth universally acknowledged that an LSU law student in possession of a Law Center parking tag must be in want of a place to park. We’re all familiar with the nauseating combination of rage and panic that accompanies the useless circuits around the parking lot, hunting for any open space to leave our vehicles so we don’t get another absence. We’ve all seen the cars mockingly flaunt Zone 2 tags as their owners enjoy a cup of coffee in the bookstore. We’ve engaged in arguments with parents who see our spaces as their Manifest Destiny. We’ve left notes, called the towing company, and screamed every swear word in our lexicons.
The problem? LSU Law Parking Director, Jeff Campbell, says it’s not the law students. Mr. Campbell confirmed what each of us has long suspected. “The problem is U-High parents,” he opined in a phone interview. “At the Parking Office we acknowledge that law students have paid to park there and they should be able to get what they pay for.”
“Should” being the operative word. Mr. Campbell went on to describe the trouble that he has experienced keeping the Parking Office staffed for the last few years. He has attempted to compensate for this imbalance by staying in communication with the administration of U-High. “We’ve never been so proactive with the Lab School as we have this year. We have asked the administration to send out emails to parents, giving them notice that this isn’t their lot.”
While preferring to remain off the record, the U-High administration did give notice that they were aware of the complications arising from congestion in the LSU Law lot. The administration declined to comment specifically but provided access to a copy of two emails that they sent to parents regarding parking.
In January of last semester, the administration sent an email blast to parents and students stating, “Parents dropping off and picking up students should go through the carpool line on East Campus Drive. Carpoolers should not be parking in the Law Center lot, parking in the law school entrance way, or cutting through the parking lot.”
On September 20th, a second email signed by “ULS Administration” informed parents that LSU Parking asked them to convey some issues regarding parking on and around campus. The email went on to warn parents that they “are using the law school parking lot in the vicinity of the Law Center and as such are preventing law students from entering and parking in designated areas for which they pay.”
The email went on to notify parents that anyone parking in the Law Center lot would be “ticketed and no appeals would be available.” Mr. Campbell said that the fines for a ticket vary depending on which zone you park in, but generally start at $30. He stated that for cars that are not registered on campus, the fines hover around $100. For Lab School parents lacking parking registration, these tickets don’t serve as nearly enough incentive to stay away from Law Center spots.
“There’s a statute in Louisiana that states we can’t send tickets to collections agencies. If a parent just throws the ticket away, there’s nothing I can do about it,” Mr. Campbell explained. The legislative history behind this statute features a senator’s wife in the 1950s who received a ticket when she parked at LSU. Enraged, she convinced her husband to pass legislation that forbade the LSU Parking Center from hunting down violators of the parking policy. This tale has taken on something of a mythical quality in the Parking Office, being passed down from director to director. As a result of this policy, LSU Parking is denied anywhere from six to fourteen thousand dollars of ticket revenue per year.
Dean Galligan expressed that congestion had always been a problem, but was surprised to learn students had been missing classes due to an inability to find parking. He resolved to step in on behalf of PMH. “We will call Parking Services and request assistance in making sure cars that do not belong in our student parking lot are not there. Please keep us informed about progress or continued problems.” Both Dean Galligan and the LSU Parking Director expressed caution against self-enforcement of parking issues. “We don’t want students getting in fights in the parking lot. Students are always welcome to call us and we’ll get a tow truck out there as soon as we can,” Mr. Campbell said. Dean Galligan echoed this sentiment stating, “The fourth floor is always open if students need to report something. We ask that students be diligent around drop off and pick up times at U-High so they can report parents who are loitering in our lot.”