Day Student Drivers At Odds with PAPS

About a dozen tickets have been issued to day student drivers since the start of the term for misdemeanors including failure to register their vehicle and parking outside of the designated student lots, according to Phillips Academy Public Safety (PAPS). With the parking lot by the varsity tennis courts closed due to the Snyder Center construction, day students have found it difficult to find convenient parking spots during school hours.

Day students are permitted to park in the Graves Hall parking lot or in the East Stuart Hall lot facing Highland Avenue before 3:00 p.m. on school days. After 3:00 p.m., day students are permitted to park wherever they would like. Since the start of this year, 34 day students have registered their cars.

PAPS issues a map detailing the parking options around campus when students register their cars. Some students, however, who did not receive maps were unsure of where they could and could not park, which resulted in their vehicle being ticketed. Students who receive a ticket must pay a fine of ten dollars.

Brett Sawka ’17 said in an interview with The Phillipian, “[PAPS was] supposed to give me a map of where to park, and they did not when they registered my car… I was unclear of where to park because PAPS themselves did not say where I could.”

Anushree Gupta ’18 said that she received a ticket, despite having parked at a designated spot.

“I got a false parking ticket even though I was parked on the side of the lot that day students are allowed to park on… I went to PAPS that day, and they said that the person [that] needed to clear the ticket was not there,” she said.

Thomas Conlon, Director of PAPS, dismissed the charges of those who chose to challenge their citations, blaming a potential mistake.

“On that [specific incident] I had a few students come in and they said they were on the proper side, and I took their word for it, so I just took their tickets and ripped them up so there was no consequences on their part. It could have been oversight,” said Conlon.

Meanwhile, PAPS has attempted to penalize unregistered student drivers who avoid identification and park outside the student lots. Starting this year, students are required to register their cars before they can receive the sticker for their BlueCard that shows they are permitted to transport boarding students.

“There has [been an issue with students not registering their cars]. I think [students not registering their cars] has picked up more, primarily because students probably don’t want to be identified as students, and park where they want to park. But if you go by the Blue Book, you’re supposed to be registered,” said Conlon.

Emma Chatson ’18 and Gupta have said they have noticed potential violations by unregistered parking drivers.

“I’ve only needed to park at Graves once, and… there weren’t a lot of spaces filled there. I would assume that the rest of those day students who aren’t parking at Graves or [Stuart] aren’t registered and are parking on the street next to the [Schuman] Admission Center or maybe even in the gym lot,” said Chatson.

Gupta believes students are not motivated to register their cars because she finds that only cars with registration stickers receive tickets.

“All the cars with registration stickers on that side of the lot had tickets. If they didn’t have the stickers they wouldn’t have gotten any tickets. It encourages day students not to register their cars,” she said.

Students also complained about the lack of convenient parking spots. The Stuart lot, with its convenient proximity to campus, often fills before 7:30 a.m., forcing students to make the walk from Graves to campus.

Chatson said, “Graves is such an inconvenient parking space for day students because it takes ten minutes to walk from Graves to Commons, especially in morning commute traffic when people aren’t willing to stop for students who are crossing the street.”

“It’s totally out of the way of many students’ commitments, it’s just very frustrating. It’s also very competitive trying to get one of those [Stuart] parking spaces. You have to show up [to park] really early,” she continued.

Although there has yet been a day this year where both the Stuart and Graves parking lots were full according to PAPS, Sawka worries about finding available parking once more students begin driving to campus.

“The Graves lot is usually fine, but this year I worry that once more Uppers get their licenses there might be a problem because we lost a lot [of parking spaces] this year to construction. I’d say that we have a valid reason to have more spots [available],” he said.

In the future, day students hope to see more convenient parking locations around campus to encourage car registration, as well as more consistency among PAPS officers to avoid more incorrectly issued tickets.

Conlon, however, says that the installation of new student parking lots is unlikely within the next few years. Even if a parking lot is built, it may not be in a more convenient location for students.

“The Graves lot…[is] an easier location to get to GW [for] a day student going to [their] lockers…Over the years, students have talked about trying to get a specific student parking area… which I think is a good idea, but at the same time, depending on where the administration feels student parking could be, it may not be appropriate to where they’d like to be. You’d just be on another section of campus,” said Conlon.