Months after being back in Murray, students have continued to feel the pressure associated with being ticketed by local law enforcement. Primarily because they do not have the required city stickers mandated in Murray.
The Murray City Council passed an ordinance on March 22, which required Murray State students who live or work in the city, including those living in residential colleges, to purchase a city sticker.
Mark Welch, director of community relations, said the decision made by the city council to rescind the 50-plus year residency exemption for some Murray State students occurred after a nearly two year process.
“The University administration and students were involved in the discussions – we presented our arguments against removing the exemption – but ultimately it was decided by an overwhelming vote of the council,” Welch said.
He said he has worked with the city of Murray to inform students and their parents of the changes in the ordinance and their legal obligation to purchase a city sticker for their vehicle or motorcycle.
“The University is not involved in the enforcement of this ordinance beyond communicating the information I mentioned to the University community,” Welch said. “So, there’s no direct effect on the University. Many students have already been purchasing city stickers – obviously others have now incurred the additional expense of the sticker and fine.”
Jeremy Bell and Jay Morgan, city council members were the two who opposed the amendment. Morgan is also the associate provost at the University.
Morgan said he knows the city of Murray does periodic patrols of university parking lots to check for city stickers.
“I voted against the ordinance which would require students in residential colleges to buy city stickers because I did not think it was the right thing to impose on students living on campus,” Morgan said. “Nevertheless, I suspect the city will continue to ticket students who do not have them. I would encourage any student who feels like they were wrongly ticketed to appeal the ticket at City Hall. Again, I thought the city should have left the students alone.”
Morgan said he would suspect local students, and those who are registered to vote in Murray, will probably remember the individuals who voted to tax them with the city sticker, and it could be a determining factor in the up-coming council elections, particularly in some of the close vote counting.
Jeremiah Johnson, student government association president and student regent, said he feels like the amendment was unfair to students and was done primarily to bring more revenue to the city.
“I made that very clear last spring with city council,” Johnson. “I feel like they are taking too much money from students, they just don’t have.”
He said the University is state property and he doesn’t see how the city has rights to enforce the ordinance.
“They also gave tickets to two people that I know of that do have city stickers,” Johnson said. “They had the stickers on their cars, which makes me think they are blanket ticketing everybody.”
Johnson said it aggravates him because he feels students are the people that bring the money into Murray and he hears from more and more people in the community and city officials that they are tired of the students making the decisions.
“You look at their whole appeal process and it takes forever and a day to get an appeal,” Johnson said. “So people are going to go pay it because they won’t appeal the ticket.”
Mayor Bill Wells said the police are not profiling anybody and most of the time they are not on campus – they are at the hospital, Briggs and Stratton, Kenlake State Resort Park and other bigger businesses.
“They do have however go through Murray State and those parking lots,” Wells said.
He said in January, the city will bring representatives to campus to sell the city stickers again.
He said the students were not being forced to buy the city stickers because of a budget shortfall, but because it was part of a state law.
Questions, complaints or concerns can be directed to Murray’s city hall 270-762-0350.
Story by Meghann Anderson, Assistant News Editor