Parking areas not clearly defined

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    Our campus is booby trapped.I’m not kidding. There are several places on campus where the unsuspecting student will be innocently minding their own business, thinking they’re doing nothing wrong and then “BOOM!” They find themselves short $75 for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    I’m referring, of course, to parking spaces.

    But not just any parking spaces. Six in particular, at the end of the middle row in the Colby Hall parking lot. And I’m warning you because I have been the unfortunate victim of such a booby trap in these spaces.

    It’s been said a million times (probably on a daily basis), and I know that there’s little that can be done to help it, but the parking situation is pretty bad on campus. However, this situation is unrelated to the lack of available parking. It would remain a problem even if there were a nearby parking garage. And it’s something that can be rectified, at least for this area in the parking lot in front of Colby.

    Contrary to popular belief, these are not parking spaces. They merely have lines on either side and are cleverly disguised as parking spaces to confuse the average driver. However, these six spaces – three on each side in the middle row – are actually a fire lane, from what I’ve deduced so far. Unfortunately, there’s really no way to know.

    I was only made aware of this situation when I unexpectedly parked in one of these spaces a couple of weeks ago. It never crossed my mind that this parking place might get me into trouble. There was a car in front of me, one behind me, one on my right side and a curb on the left. I had seen cars parked there on a daily basis and was, in fact, shocked at my good fortune of finding it open that day.

    When I returned to my car the next morning, I first noticed a ticket on the car across from me. At this point, I have to confess, I snickered to myself because I immediately assumed it was a Colby freshman who tried to get closer to their dorm and got caught. It wasn’t until I pulled away and noticed something flapping against my windshield in the breeze that I realized I had fallen victim to a heinous booby trap.

    That was frustrating. But what was more frustrating was when I drove by later and saw that it wasn’t just my car, or the car across from me, but a total of six cars with the same ticket. Since then, each time I drive by I check those spaces and without fail, six cars – either because they’ve been there for more than a day or the police make certain to check there everyday – have been ticketed.

    I know students try to take advantage of whatever open parking they can, even if that sometimes means bending the rules a little bit. I should now; I’ve been there and have been caught. But this isn’t the case here. The students that park here are, I imagine, like me – completely unaware that they’re violating any kind of rule and with no reason to even suspect it.

    If these parking places do make up a fire lane, then students need to know about it. Ticketing different students every day is not getting the point across. Obviously, since students have continued to park there for the past three weeks, then something more needs to be done.

    Despite what some people might say, the job of TCU Police is not to prey on unsuspecting students with tickets to bolster the income of the university.

    Their job is to keep students from parking where they don’t belong. This includes those with improper permits, but fire lanes are especially important. These places actually serve an important purpose. If there was truly an emergency, fire trucks would be out of luck and out of a parking place because students simply don’t know any better, and no one has taken the initiative to keep them informed.

    On the other side of the same Colby lot, the lines have been repainted and “NO PARKING, FIRE LANE” is clearly visible. Since then, I have seen only a handful of cars parked along this line and never for any extended period of time.

    The side of the lot that I’m referring to is a mess of uneven pavement and mud. The line is not only faded but buried beneath layers of dirt. Simply repainting this end would probably do the trick. If that proves unsuccessful, a nice blockade or two for a period of time would at least let students know that these are not parking places.

    But to continue to do nothing but endlessly ticket students just shows laziness, in addition to being a fire hazard.

    Parking is and will continue to be a mess, which no one can really do anything about. But this is one situation that can be helped and will benefit everyone. So please, don’t let you or your friends become the victim of these traps. As a result, maybe, just maybe, something will be done soon to remedy the situation.

    Valerie Cooper is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Azle. Her column appears every Wednesday.