June 3rd 2005 Me vs. Public Safety

Public Safety is a frequent focus of resentment on Bucknell’s campus. Many students find Public Safety (also known as Pub Safe, or PS) to be an oppressive, controlling force on campus. For a long time, I didn’t have a problem with them. Their job is to enforce laws and campus regulations, and even though it might be an unpopular job, that is their duty. I never had a run-in with any campus law enforcement entities, so I generally found Public Safety to be a benign force. The source of the resentment towards PS seemed to come from students who were doing shady and illegal things, and were angry for being held accountable for them.

Of course, all that changed on Tuesday morning. As usual, I came into work on Tuesday, and parked in a student parking lot near the Computer Center. The lot was nearly empty, so I parked in the center. The center of the lot is a double row of stalls, so I pulled through the first one and into the second row, angling my car for a quick getaway over lunch.

When I returned to my car at lunch, I had a nice parking violation stuck under my windshield wiper. “Violation 24: Backing into a parking space,” it read. The fine? $25. Yes, $25 for “backing into a parking space,” which I didn’t even do, technically. And never mind the fact that it’s an obscure, unposted violation. Never mind the fact that in two years, I have never once gotten a parking violation from Bucknell Public Safety (or anyone else, for that matter). Given the obscurity of the charge, the fact that there are no signs, the fact that I have zero violations, and the fact that I didn’t even back into the parking space, I think that a warning would suffice in this case. $25 is my entire morning’s pay.

I wrote an appeal to Public Safety. While I was delivering it to their office, I came across a Public Safety vehicle parked nearby. And can you believe that the officer had backed his vehicle into his stall. Yep, that’s right—he had committed the very charge that Public Safety accused me of violating. Well, naturally, I couldn’t resist the chance for a prank. I found a scrap piece of paper and wrote “Parking Violation. Violation 24: Backing into a parking space. Fine: $25” on it, and placed it carefully under his windshield wiper.

The battle lines have been drawn. The war is on. Either you’re with me…or you’re with Public Safety.

I recently received word from Public Safety that they are going to waive this fine, since it’s so absolutely ridiculous. Thanks, guys. In return, I guess I’ll call off the one-man war I had planned on waging against BU Public Safety.