For a lot of students attending the University of Southern Mississippi, parking tickets are a common problem. It’s easy to park in the wrong spot and not realize it until you find an electronic parking ticket waiting in your email.
Parking is an extremely pricey issue, too. Parking permits for on-campus residents can cost anywhere from 90 to 162 dollars, depending on whether someone pays on a yearly or semester-by-semester basis. Regardless of how much someone pays for a pass, though, the parking tickets have a fixed rate. If Parking and Transit Services find a car in the wrong spot, the ticket will cost 25 dollars every time.
And the consequences can get worse from there. Jacob Cochran, the Director of Auxiliary Services for Southern Miss’s Parking and Transit office, explained how the price for tickets can increase even without “an escalating price structure for repeated citations”.
“[Repeat] offenders can be booted or towed depending on the violation and how many citations they have previously received. So you will receive a citation for the violation and a boot/tow citation,” said Cochran.
However, there is a way for students, faculty and staff to avoid the worst of fines. Parking and Transit Services has a designated appeals office available through their website, which you can also find linked to your emailed parking ticket.
“When a citation is issued, the recipient can follow a link in the emailed citation or log into their parking account to file an appeal,” said Cochran. “Once filed, you will receive a confirmation email and the citation will be put on hold pending hearing. You will also be notified via email prior to your hearing date so that accommodations can be made if you wish to come in person.”
The appeals process is not only run by people within Parking and Transit Services, either. Student citations go before a student judicial board for review, while faculty and staff members have their tickets reviewed by a faculty/staff judicial board. It is then their ultimate decision whether someone’s ticket is reduced or removed, or if their ticket is removed at all.
“After a decision is reached, the person will receive the verdict by email within two-three days,” said Cochran.
All that being said, anyone looking to go through the appeal process should be able to produce an acceptable reason for their ticket’s dismissal. The Parking and Transit Office’s website has a tab dedicated to the appeal process, located at www.usm.edu/parking-transit-services/citation-hearing-and-appeals-procedure. This section includes a list of “unacceptable reasons” for someone to make an appeal over. Some of these reasons include:
- the inability to find a legal parking space,
- being late for class,
- experiencing bad weather
- or saying someone else parked the vehicle.
During his interview, Cochran mentioned that there has been an increase of students illegally parking in spots designated for disabled people lately. Students who do require those parking spaces should make sure to submit a photo of the front and back of their placard alongside their virtual permit. Otherwise, those spots should be left alone.
But, as always, the best way to avoid a parking ticket is to pay attention to signs around the campus that designate the lot’s parking zone. Students, faculty and staff can also check to see where their correct zone is at www.usm.edu/parking-transit-services/campus-maps.
Cochran also said that the parking situation should be getting better soon, especially for the west side of campus.
“The Ross Boulevard North Parking lot is nearing completion and should be fully open to commuter students soon,” said Cochran. “Even with the lot being closed at the beginning of the semester, Ross Boulevard South, 34th, 35th and Scholarship Hall never [fill] up.”
Students who are looking to move around campus without a car may also want to look into the Gold Route, a specially designed track of Hub City Transit that helps students, faculty and staff get around Southern Miss’s Hattiesburg campus and surrounding areas. The ride is free as long as someone can produce a valid Southern Miss ID.
“Also, if students would like a guaranteed parking space, Parking and Transit Services has a few extra reserved spaces in the garage available for purchase,” Cochran said.
To learn more about anything mentioned here, visit www.usm.edu/parking-transit-services/index.