Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

The observant student looking for a place to park at West Chester University may notice a parking violation problem on campus. This includes a wide variety of violations, such as parking in spaces that are designated for members of the WCU community who have disabilities.According to the university’s web site, only two people are employed with the responsibility of checking the parking lots for violations. At a college that has quite a bit of ground to cover by only two people, it is difficult to catch every parking violation.

The college years prepare people for real world situations, including ways to deal with diverse groups of people. As one such real world issue, disabilities are addressed by companies working to give the disabled community an equally safe work environment.

WCU has a diverse community consisting of those who require various degrees of accommodation for disabilities. In accordance with the American Disabilities Act, the University’s buildings are equipped with elevators and wheelchair accessible doors to help everyone get around with ease.

Dr. Martin Patwell, the Director of Disability Services, believes that fines for handicapped spots are closer to those in Philadelphia, charging violators a hefty $200. Such an out-of-pocket expense is one that anyone, especially a college student on a tight budget, would want to avoid by adhering to the law.

According to Patwell, there has been some debate over requiring everyone to obtain both a WCU handicapped pass and an MV placard. This comes in response to the belief that people with ADA placards may also abuse the use of such placards on campus.

How much that version of ADA accessible parking abuse happens is unknown, yet some disabilities are not as visibly noticeable as others are. An MV placard, according to www.dmv.org, requires application forms to be notarized before being sent out to the Department of Transportation.

Those who do not have an ADA placard hanging from the rear-view mirror, or an ADA sticker on the license plate, are subject to fines and towing. According to the WCU Parking Regulations brochure, the fines for parking violations range from $10 to $40, which adds up fast on a student budget.

Obtaining an ADA hanging placard or license plate sticker requires getting a doctor’s approval, and then a stop at a local auto tag store. The web site www.dmv.org also provides another way to get the forms required by the state of Pennsylvania to get a placard or sticker.

An ADA placard or sticker, good for temporary or permanent disabilities, comes at a price of $18, according to the state of Pennsylvania. Once the necessary paperwork is sent out, it will take up to two weeks to process and be ready for the tag to be ready for pick-up.

WCU also has several designated ADA accessible parking lots throughout the north campus and more ADA spaces positioned around the Sturzebecker Health Science Center. The university uses both standing signs and blue paint to mark where those with an ADA placard or license sticker can park. These methods of signaling the ADA designation may not always be enough for the person who considers that they will be back in five minutes.

As a way to promote awareness of diversity issues such as disability, the university offers a variety of diversity seminars through the academic year. Seminars focused on disabilities could prevent students from a hit in the wallet after seeing and appreciating the struggles faced by those with disabilities.

Students may wonder what can be done to assist in cutting down the number of parking violations that occur during any given semester. The abuse of ADA accessible parking spaces is an issue that may require solutions such as more funding to address it.

Whether such funding goes to more parking lot employees, a camera system, or creation of more spaces, students can help by reporting violations to 610-436-3311.

For more information on ADA accessible and other parking information, students can pick up a WCU parking regulations brochure at various locations around campus.

A map of the campus is included in the brochure, providing full details on the university’s parking lots and the parking designations assigned to them.

Carol Dwyer can be reached at dwyermca@comcast.net.

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