Students at the University of Rhode Island will now face an $85 fine for their first offense for parking in the wrong lot. This is only one of a series of changes made to URI’s parking and infrastructure this fall.

URI Parking Services has done away with their old three strike system, which originally allowed three “warning tickets” issued before any further fines or towing. Now, the $85 fine will be for a first offense, with subsequent fines if the ticket is not paid within 14 days. These tickets are still issued by campus police, but are now considered Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal tickets, or RITT tickets. These citations must be paid or contested in court.

RITT tickets are for parking violations, including students parking in faculty lots, blocking ramps or handicapped access, driving or parking in areas not designated for vehicles, or blocking snow removal efforts in the winter. For a full list of parking violations, students should check the Parking Services website.

Director of Public Safety Stephen Baker said that a number of these violations have to do with safety concerns, including those about fire lanes, handicapped spaces, or vehicles on sidewalks or grass.

In addition to parking in the wrong lot, students could also face a $50 fine from Parking Services for not purchasing a parking permit, also referred to as a non-registered vehicle, or a $20 fine for not displaying their permit.

There is a grace period until Sept. 21. If students receive a citation for a non-registered vehicle or non-displayed permit, they can get the fee waived if they show proof of registration within five days of the violation. After Sept. 21, all non-displayed and non-registered violations will be fully enforced, according to an official statement sent via email from the university on Sept. 6.

Students were surprised to hear of the changes, and were notably unhappy because of the new fines and enforcement in already limited parking spaces. Junior Julie Sayegh said that she’s heard of people who pay for passes and are unable to find parking. Instead, they circle lots for 25 minutes waiting for people to leave.

“It makes me feel like I have to work a little harder to beat the system,” Sayegh said. “They need to take some of this money and make more lots somewhere.” She expressed that with larger freshmen classes and more commuters, “it’s a struggle” to find parking as it is.

Sayegh added that she doesn’t want to pay the fines, even though she feels it’s “kind of inevitable because I’m going to end up parking somewhere I’m not supposed to.”

Director of Parking Services Joe Paradise said that the goal of these new changes is mainly compliance.

“With this new system students should face a lot less towing,” Paradise, a quick response towing company said. Originally, cars were towed after three warnings because Parking Services was not authorized by the state to issue parking fines. Now, towing will only be necessary if students are parked in fire lanes or on lawns, Paradise said.

“The warning system was ineffective,” Baker said. Over 7,000 warning tickets were issued last year, and people still parked illegally on campus.

Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., parking permits are required across campus. Students should only park in their designated lots, whether that be a resident or commuter. All other times permits are not required. However, all other parking violations are in effect. For example, parking in travel lanes or handicapped spaces.

The only exception to this is the commuter street-side parking on Flagg Road. There are signs that designate students may not park there overnight at all.

“No parking anytime means anytime,” Paradise said. “Students can still park in faculty lots [after hours], but there’s certain areas where students cannot park, and it’s posted accordingly.”

Baker explained that there is a large safety concern with snow removal in the winter. Paradise added that commuters were frustrated that residents were taking up their parking spaces.

“It’s not fair to the students who purchase permits,” Paradise said. “These students are forced, even though it’s not legal, to park in a compromised position in an effort just to get to class on time” and face more fines or potential tows.

Like last year, permits are non transferable. If students need to replace the vehicle they have to replace the permit for $25. If a student brings a car other than their registered vehicle to campus, they are granted four one-day use permits which are accessible through the parking website.

To address common space concerns, Baker said the university has hired an outside vendor, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Incorporated, to evaluate and suggest changes to the parking and transportation system around campus.

In the meantime, Paradise said he just wants students to comply with parking regulations.

“The biggest excuse we get is that people are late for class, and they didn’t have anywhere to park, so they just jumped in [a spot],” Paradise said. “We understand every now and again something can come up, everyone’s late, but please. We want to avoid that. Purchase a permit and park in a designated area, between two white lines, and you’re guaranteed you will not be ticketed or towed.”

If students have questions or concerns about parking on or around campus, they are encouraged to reach out to parking services at 401-874-9281, or online at web.uri.edu/parking.

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Emma Gauthier
Emma is a senior journalism and English double major with a minor in political science from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She has worked for the Cigar since her first semester at URI as a staff reporter, then web editor, news editor and finally Editor in Chief. Emma also edits for the URI research magazine, Momentum, and hopes to find a career in political reporting upon her graduation in May.