Halloween College Parking Special: Warning, Sobriety Could Result


In the spirit of Halloween, mischief its obligatory companion, it is only suitable to note the labyrinthine ways of parking instructions on college campuses all across America. In honor of one of the colleges from which I graduated, I will use it as an exemplar. I am certain many of you have your own spooky stories involving parking and education.

You would think rule-abiding students would be in the clear, having bought a sticker to defile the window of their vehicle, and so find a safe haven to pay for the ride mom and dad often really could not afford to buy in the first place. Not so. Students at TCU, for example, also known by the longer moniker of Texas Christian University, are informed that “Purchasing a parking permit does not guarantee a parking place nor does the perceived lack of parking space justify violations of any parking regulation.”

The campus police also informs would-be-parkers, with obvious logic that even some of the most sanctimonious will no doubt throw out the window in the heat of the moment of wanting to hook up with an attractive parking space, that “The University is unable to provide ‘close-in-parking’ for all vehicles.”

Be that as it may, one wonders, especially if majoring in philosophy or immersed in graduate-level studies or rhetorical theory, how the university determines “the perceived lack of parking space.” Is this a merging of the perceived reality of campus police and the would-be- parking or did-already park student? Are these realities in binary arrangement? Whose reality is privileged? And why even have such a philosophical discussion in the set of rules issued when the statement is outright made, albeit in much fancier terms, if you can’t find a space to park you are shit out of luck, buddy, no matter what.

Turning to research parking at TCU, one finds on Niche (College Prowler) surprisingly warm and kind comments made by students involving what is usually hotly contested territory between two lines. A comment made on January 20 reads, “Having a parking spot is cheap.” Two students, apparently powered by Horn Frog leg power alone, even answered, “I do not have a car” and “I don’t have car so I don’t have much experience with this!” More informative in regard to the alleviation of stress involving parking is a narrative by student Marley Hutchinson:

Parking at TCU is neither cheap nor easy. It’s difficult to find a spot close to campus, as most tend to be far away from the classroom buildings. Students who arrive in the parking lot early stand a chance of finding a reasonable parking spot, but there are no guarantees. TCU does provide shuttle buses for students to and from both the freshmen parking lot and the overflow lot.

Parking is certainly a hot topic at TCU. Most students are fed up with remote parking locations, the hassle of finding a spot, and the overall inconvenience that TCU parking entails. The prime area of campus has the fewest spots, which greatly contributes to the problem. Parking at TCU can be a real challenge, but the addition of another shuttle has since eased some of the stress.

But stress is definitely a factor for students navigating their automobiles in the name and cause of academic inquiry. Of course the terror of financial punishment is on students’ minds. The following student makes clear the advantages of being ticketed by TCU as opposed to the Ft. Worth police for violating parking regulations:

College Junior Jun 8 2012

Parking at Texas Christian University: Good Luck Finding a Space – There is parking around campus, it just fills up quickly and you may end up walking across campus to get to class, even if you are willing to pay for a parking meter. Tickets for parking in the wrong lot, on the wrong street, or not having a pass can add up quickly and you don’t want one from fort worth police because it is 4 times the amount of a campus ticket.

A menu of costs for violations, also provided on Niche (College Prowler), is indeed reasonable:

         Common Parking Tickets

  • Expired meter: $50
  • Fire lane: $100
  • Handicapped zone: $100
  • No parking zone: $50

If you are healthy and don’t want to walk overly much to get to class, paying a $100.00 fee to occupy a handicapped zone is a bargain, considering that no doubt those spaces are close, as are the fire lane locations, also priced at $100.00. It makes only financial sense to risk paying double for these more convenient zones than malingering in expired meter or no parking zones that each cost $50.00.  Their pricing alone indicates a lower status and thus lower desirability.

Calculating opportunity cost, a must for economics majors to know about, and a term that is covered in the first year of basic economics, it would certainly be worth it to arrange for a class once a week at night and park in any of these zones and take the risk of a financial hit. The highest cost for 16 weeks, provided a student is unlucky and gets caught every time, would be $1600.00, with $800.00 being the lowball estimate. Of course a mix and match package is also available, depending on your budget and cumulative luck. And as any bright student can figure out, the entire package deal may also be affected by other students having already parked in different zones that are verboten and now occupied.

In the spirit of Halloween, spending amounts between $800.00 and $1600.00 on parking violations at TCU would be a healthy choice, as no doubt a fraction of the allotment for beer money of an undergraduate could be spent this way in what is a park yourself illegally toward sobriety program.

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don’t impersonate a real person.