Update: Compared to NYC parking prices, I suppose I should count my blessings…
I am starting to really hate Rutgers University. Outside of problems I’ve had with administrators, professors, and the “RU Screw,” I’ve just been fleeced out of $300 by the most evil entity within the whole of the Rutgers bureaucracy: Parking and Transportation Services. You see, since 2005 I have occasionally been late to class and instead of waiting for the slow and overcrowded buses (RU being so overcrowded that some students had to be put up in hotel rooms within the past year) I decided to drive to campus and park in the Cook/Douglass Parking Deck. There were plenty of spaces left open (so I wasn’t depriving anyone of a spot who had a parking pass), although I knew the risk of getting a parking ticket. Between Fall 2005 and Fall 2006, I received 3 parking tickets at $50 each (if you get a ticket in the city of New Brunswick it’s only $20) and decided not to pay them until I absolutely had to. No notices came, I was allowed to register for classes, and all seemed to be right with the world. I did receive two tickets this past semester, but I would have no problem paying for those being that the notice came during the semester in which I had been ticketed. I had a little reason to hope that I had been forgotten as I had heard that ParkTran forgives the first ticket each semester, but I was greatly mistaken.
Indeed, just before I was about to register for my fall classes I received a letter from ParkTran; the demanded $300, and until I could pay it there would be a “hold” on my account. I didn’t even have a spare $150, much less the total sum they wanted, and apparently they decided that they were going to hold all “offenses” of semesters past against me. Did I park in a mostly-empty parking deck without a tag? Yes, but it should be the job of ParkTran to keep track of their tickets and promptly inform students if they owe money, not hit them with a huge bill years after the fact. This week, however, I finally had enough money to pay them off, and my wife kindly went to the new office to try and get the fine reduced. She was told that students could no longer fight tickets nor get fines reduced, and we would have to pay the full $300. I was hoping that I would now be able to finally register for classes, but ParkTran being a bureaucracy, the hold on my account will not be removed until Tuesday.
[I’m sure others have their own tales of woe relating to the Parking/Transportation offices. Check out the Connie Willis story In the Late Cretaceous; I’m sure many of us could relate to Dr. Robert Walker.]
I know Rutgers has been short on money due to budget cuts and the like, but establishing a “Parking Gestapo” that hits students with such massive bills that cannot be fought or even reduced is inexcusable. The parking officers have been getting more and more rabid every year. It seems as if the administration decided that their entire deficit is going to made up from parking tickets, hitting students especially hard.
Between changing the name of my school from Cook College to “The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences” (the school had only been known as Cook College since 1973, mind you, a great dishonor to the memory of George H. Cook), budget cuts, and all the (for lack of a better term) B.S. that I’ve had to go through in pursuing my degree, I can’t say I recommend Rutgers. I worked so hard and long to get back in, but now that I’m here, I just want it all to be over.