[media-credit name=”Patrick Halloran” align=”alignnone” width=”500″][/media-credit]
Students stuck with a parking ticket are in luck. The Department of Public Safety is now accepting $25 grocery gift cards instead of a payment for each outstanding parking ticket, according to an email sent to the student body by Parking and Transportation Coordinator Shanon Grasso.
Grasso said students can only buy gift cards for parking tickets received before Dec. 1. Any parking ticket dated Dec. 1 or after will not be accepted. Gift cards will be accepted until Dec. 18.
With the overwhelming amount of parking tickets going through her office, Grasso, along with other members of Public Safety, came up with the idea for the “Ticket for a Toy” drive in fall 2013.
“It was a win right across the board,” she said. “The student got out of a parking ticket and a family got Christmas gifts for their children. It was also able to move these tickets out of my office as well.”
This is the third semester Public Safety has offered this program. Originally, students used to be able to donate unused toys instead of paying for parking violations, but Grasso said gift cards are easier because they take up less space.
“It ended up being five truckloads of toys to the community center [the first time Public Safety offered it], which was really good,” she said. “But the logistics were hard trying to find where to put all of these toys; my office is only so big.”
Grasso said this drive is popular because it is a bargain to donate instead of pay for a parking ticket and because you are helping a family in need.
“It’s such a deal because if someone has a ticket, or even multiple tickets, those tickets begin at $40 and after 15 days they double,” she said. “For $25, you could get out of an $80 ticket and that’s pretty nice. The other side of that is someone is going to really benefit from it.”
Senior Rob Ciambra thinks the program is a great idea.
“It helps people pay off their tickets in a cheaper way that’s also charitable,” he said. “I will most likely participate because I have a couple of tickets to pay off myself.”
Grasso said there is no guarantee Public Safety will offer this to students each semester, mostly because she fears students will abuse it.
“If it was something that you knew was going to come every semester I think we would see a huge spike in parking tickets because people would give the gift card to get out of it,” she said. “The danger is having students say ‘oh, I am just going to not obey the rules’ and just give a gift card instead of paying their ticket, so students can’t count on it to replace paying for their tickets.”
But Ciambra believes it should be offered at the end of every fall semester.
“I understand why it wouldn’t be offered more often but I think it’s a good idea each winter,” he said. “Yes it’s a cheaper alternative and more people would take advantage for that reason and because it’s going to a good cause, but if that’s the main concern then maybe Public Safety and the Student Government Association (SGA) can get together and think of other alternatives.”
Students can drop their gift cards and parking tickets off with Grasso anytime between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the Public Safety office on main campus. Each gift card received will benefit the local food bank.