What’s the biggest joke on campus? Surely it’s the biggest joke on campus? Surely it’e way Murray State does parking. The rules that come with attempting to park a vehicle at Murray State are enough to make even the most polite among us cuss like a sailor, and for good reason – there are no attempts by anyone, anywhere, on campus, to clear up what’s myth and what’s not. This, combined with the arbitrary nature of parking enforcement, has turned a relatively simple task (parking a car) into a nightmare for not only students, but all of us (faculty and staff as well) who call Murray State our own.
I have been written a number of parking tickets while a student at Murray State. Not once has one of those tickets been written in a way that is consistent with what I have been told about how the University handles parking. I was given a ticket for parking in the “one hour parking” zone at the Curris Center last year; I was only in the Curris Center for a grand total of fifteen minutes. I was also given a ticket last year for “not properly displaying my permit.” The permit in question was behind an air freshener but was still clearly visible. And two weeks ago, I was issued a ticket for parking near Springer Residential College on the weekend, something that had never been a problem up to that point, as I have been doing it this whole semester.
I appealed the latter decision and was denied an appeal, with no explanation as to why. I, like most members of the Murray State community, was and still am under the impression that parking was permissible anywhere on the weekend. I have never been written a ticket for parking in that exact spot until two weeks ago, and now I owe Murray State $30. If I have broken the rules, I have no problem paying that fine. But what I have a problem with is not knowing what the rules actually are. Apparently one can take up two spots with a double-wide truck and not get a ticket, but parking out of zone on a weekend will get you a hefty fine.
At no point have I ever been informed by any official or representative of the Student Government Association that parking in a different zone on the weekend was against the rules. You’d think that this would be something that might be mentioned in freshman orientation, since if it isn’t true, it’s a very pervasive myth that needs to be combated. But I guess I’m giving the SGA too much credit.
If there’s a punchline to sick joke that is Murray State parking, it’s the so-called SGA. You know, the folks whom barely 10 percent of the student population votes for every year, and who do nothing to stand up for you and me? The folks who are controlled exclusively by the Greek organizations, who have no interest in helping out anyone other than the people they pay to be friends with in dues and in favors? Call me cynical, but I don’t think that I’d have been denied an appeal if I had been a member of a Greek organization. There are two sets of rules for people at Murray State, of course: those for the Greeks, and those for the rest of us.
The SGA does a pathetic job at standing up for us. In nearly every instance it parrots the position of the administration. When was the last time the SGA stood up to the administration? Oh, that’s right! When the administration decided it was going to axe funding for the Greek Life Coordinator position back in April. How terrible! Not one word out of the SGA on the crippling cuts being made to academics or the doubling of parking fees, which would affect all students, but a torrent of tears and hand-wringing over letting go a person whom most students will never know and have absolutely nothing to do with. The SGA should change its name to the “Greek Government Association,” because clearly it represents but a small slice of the Murray State community while ignoring all others.
Students, I implore you to take action. I would do it with you, but I won’t be with you next semester. I graduate next week and would like nothing more than to see real student government, real student empowerment at Murray State. I am not entirely convinced that it can be done by simply electing new members of the Student Government Association, as the pressures of conforming to the will of Murray State will always exist for those who hold those positions.
I am, however, convinced that it can be done in a more democratic and participatory way. Students can organize and can demand change be made. They can organize picket lines and protest marches. They can occupy the Quad, set up tents, and refuse to leave until something is done to make Murray State more democratic and accountable. You have the power to do all these things, but you have to want them first. If you are tired of government of, by and for the Greeks and only the Greeks, then you have to organize. You have to make a ruckus. You have to force change.
Letter by Devin Griggs, former Opinion Editor.