The summer sun peeks through students’ windows as their alarms scream “wake up.” They log onto their computer extra early to pay $60 to ensure a front row parking spot for the fast-approaching school year. But as the year progresses, their spots are taken weekly. This forces the students to park in the lot by the indoor facility, commonly known as Africa due to its distance from the school, or in the front of the school, which is off-limits to students.
Administration deals with students parking in the wrong spot daily. When someone parks in a student’s spot, the student is supposed to take a picture of the wrongly-parked car’s license plate and bring it to administrative assistant Natalie Buster. From there, punitive measures are taken into consideration.
“The cool thing about working at Lovejoy is that there is no typical punishment for anybody for anything,” assistant principal Bruce Coachman said. “Typically if we have talked to you, a person who has parked in someone’s spot, first of all, we would have required that they get their car registered, and that they get their own parking spot, and that they [understand that] they had to be told more than once. They could get Thursday Night School. They could even get ISS, or they could get multiple days of ISS if they continue to violate the policies or practices that we have.”
According to Coachman, the number of complaints about student parking has increased over the years, causing the administration to ponder ideas on how to enforce parking permits more strictly.
“One of the things that we would have to commit to is getting all of our staff, and possibly even some teachers, to go out for a period of time and monitor the parking lot way closer before school and after school so that we could find the ones that are not parking where they are supposed to and find the ones that do not have the little hang tags,” Coachman said. “So, it’s a commitment to a cause, and if that cause is important enough, then we have to address it, and it sounds like it might be getting to that point.”
Stolen spots are a result of loosely-enforced parking lot rules that could lead to open parking in the future if the situation worsens.
“The problem is that we do not have strident enough measures to deal with the students who are not doing what they are supposed to do, and it could lead ultimately to not having parking spots–that everyone just parks wherever they want,” Coachman said. “I have worked in situations like that. It works really well as long as you don’t park in a handicap. The problem is there are some seniors and juniors who would like to have their parking spot next to the building, and it is kind of a perk.”
Coachman described the parking lot situation as a “domino effect.”
“One person parks wrong, maybe someone else parks wrong, or the more students that we have that just park randomly wherever they want–including in spots that are designed for the public–they cause a ripple effect for everyone else,” Coachman said.
Stolen parking spots often ignite annoyance and anger in students.
“It’s very frustrating,” junior Avery Silliman said. “I think people shouldn’t do it because there is no excuse to do it. I have had a few people park in my spot. You just have to go and park pretty much as far away as you can, even though your parents are paying for the spot that someone else took when I have my giant art portfolio, and it’s cold and wet, and I have my sister–it just makes it rough.”
For senior Sloan Carevic, having someone park in her front row spot has become a part of her weekly routine.
“It sort of drives me crazy when someone takes my spot because I’m always running late, and I get to my spot and someone is in it, and I don’t want to take someone else’s, so I have to go to the front and go inside and talk to Ms. Buster, so it’s just a tedious process,” Carevic said.
Some students do not know the correct process for when someone parks in their spot.
“Someone has written me a note and stuck it on my car [when I parked in their spot] before, and cussed me out because it was before I knew the rules,” Silliman said. “You’re supposed to go over to the indoor [or to the front of the building], but I didn’t know that, so I just parked in the spot that was closest to me.”
For sophomore Leah Taylor, open parking would bring her more convenience.
“I have to park all the way by the indoor facility, and I have to go to softball each day, so it’s a long walk,” Taylor said. “It’s really frustrating. I would rather have first-come, first-serve because I get here early in the mornings, so I could get a good spot. It’s just annoying at night when no one else is out there [in the parking lot by the indoor facility], and you just have to walk all the way out in the dark alone.”
However, other students feel that parking spots should be based on seniority.
“I think there should still be paid parking spots because a lot of people come later in the day, and there wouldn’t be spots left, and also seniors should get to have better sports than freshman, and each year you could have a better spot,” Carevic said.
For the current practice to work, Coachman said students need to comply.
“This system will work, but it requires that people will do what they are supposed to do, and we have too many students right now that simply don’t want to abide by the regulations,” Coachman said. “I understand that they may not agree with [the regulations], but that infringes upon the rule followers, like someone who pulls up and their parking space is not there. They are trying to follow the rules, and they can’t because someone else has chosen not to. It’s a level of frustration, and a source of frustration not just for the student, but for us as well because we have to then work to try and find out who it is.”