There are many victims on the Quinnipiac University campus. The geese are chased off the ponds. The sidewalks are littered with gum and saliva. Even the vending machines suffer from the occasional five finger discount. There is another victim on this campus, and its only crime is serving its purpose.
“About 10 or 12 gates have been broken at the Hilltop parking lot since August,” said Ronald Colavolpe, assistant chief for parking and transportation at Quinnipiac.
Colavolpe says students break the gates for a number of reasons.
“Some [offenders] tailgate their friends’ cars and don’t get through fast enough. Others forget their cards and don’t want to call for help,” he said. “Students who do not belong in that lot will also break through.”
Both males and females are responsible for breaking the gates, although Colavolpe says more boys break the gates on foot while girls tend to drive through them.
Each board is $9, and with the cost of the paint and labor the price for a broken gate comes to $30. A supply of boards is kept by facilities.
“Sometimes the students not only break the gate, but also the mechanism that lifts the arm. Then the company has to come in and fix it, and that can cost anywhere between $200 and $250,” Colavolpe said.
To catch vandals, security has a camera watching the gates. But since it is not the only camera the security guards must watch, a quick break can come and go without the culprit being seen.
“If someone is caught on tape or in person breaking the gate, there’s a judicial hearing, and the student[s] must reimburse the university,” Colavolpe said. “If it is a repeat offender, the university might call the parents.”
For some, this is enough to stop a first-time offender or at least prevent another break.
A sophomore wishing to remain anonymous recently went to court over a Hilltop gate he broke last semester.
“I was in my friend’s car and I only had my Q-card, which wasn’t going to work. So I got out and pushed the arm until it broke,” he said. “When I got down by the gate on dorm road, they pulled me over and said they had caught me on tape. With the court fee and repairing of the gate, I had to pay $75. I’ll never do it again.”
Opinions on the gates’ fate are differing.
“[The gates] are there for a good reason. Let them be,” junior and Hilltop parker Tim Pinkham said.
Hilltop user Greg Mazza suggests taking them down.
“The bottom line is that if someone wants to get up to [Hilltop] they’ll find a way,” Mazza said.
He feels that there are alternatives to the gates.
“Have another guard looking at stickers, like they have at the entrance on dorm road,” he said.
Mazza added that the gates could pose a danger to cars in the winter.
“The gates are dangerous in icy weather because if they’re not up, cars can slip into them coming down the steep hill,” Mazza said.
Colavolpe points to university liabilities as the reasons why the gates are not stronger or more intimidating.
“If a car is ruined, or someone gets hurt, there will be lawsuits. [We] don’t like what the students do to the gates, but replacing the gates instead of fighting lawsuits is choosing the lesser of two evils,” Colavolpe said.
Until an agreement can be made between students and security, it appears the Hilltop parking gates will continue to be the casualties of the parking war.