Student leaders want clear parking guidelines

Over the course of several years, AU students have been forced to deal with the ever-present and increasingly important issue of parking off campus. In addition to steady increases in rates that students must pay for parking on campus, the side streets in the neighborhoods surrounding the University are off limits for the AU Community. Students who park their cars in the neighborhoods surrounding AU are indiscriminately ticketed by AU Public Safety - despite having parked on D.C.-zoned streets. There are several problems with this tactic that we, as student leaders at AU, feel that we must address. However, we will stress two large concerns today.

First is the concern of those with Zone 3 parking permits parking in the their designated zones near AU. Students, faculty and staff already holding a Zone 3 permit and living in the area, are ultimately forced to take down their AU bumper stickers and AU umbrellas. This is forcing students to remove the symbols that exemplify their pride in the institution so that their own school does not ticket them. We feel as though AU should give those who live in the area the right granted to them, namely to park in the zone that they have paid for, instead of targeting and ticketing those cars they assume to be part of the AU family.

Secondly, we are concerned with the University's refusal to inform students where they can and cannot part. In Zoning Commission Order No. 949, it states, "The Neighborhood Associations complained about University-related parking on neighborhood streets, and recommended a program combining fines, student agreements, and enforcement by the University - patrolling the streets and responding to telephone complaints - to eliminate parking by students in the surrounding neighborhoods." While it is legal for AU Public Safety to ticket members of the AU family to combat overcrowding in the areas surrounding AU, the AU community has a right to know these parameters, as the purpose of laws or policies are to inform those who must abide by them of their liberties and limitations. Elbert White, the Director of Public Works for the District of Columbia said in a conversation with students earlier this year that it is legal for AU to ticket cars along the borders of campus, but going further into the neighborhood is illegal. However, there are cases of students continuing to be ticketed in the deeper neighborhoods.

As student leaders, we are demanding the answers to two simple questions. Why can't members of the AU community who pay for a Zone 3 parking permit park in the zone for which they are entitled? And what are the parking parameters for students in AU neighborhoods?

Polson Kanneth is the president of the Student Confederation, Zen Hunter-Ishikawa is the executive chair of the Graduate Leadership Council, and Arish Gajjar is the president of the Student Bar Association. To respond to this opinion piece, e-mail president@studentconfederation.org, glc@american.edu, and sba@wcl.american.edu.

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