Getting around: UVA students dodge car rules

Effective for the next school year, parking permits for UVA's incoming students will be a thing of the past. But who needs a permit anyway?

Even before the University announced the end of parking for freshmen (here called first years) in their second semester, first semester students were finding ways to circumvent the system.

When Floridian Tucker Frazee was a first year, she didn't want to wait until the spring semester to bring her car to Charlottesville. She found her solution at the corner of Emmet and Ivy, at the Cavalier Inn.

"I just walked in and asked," says Frazee, now a fourth year. "They don't care who you are."

Most students pay $11 a month for permits to park in the hinterland that is University Hall. The Cavalier Inn, while considerably pricier at $60 a month, is much closer to first year dorms than the U-Hall lot. Several churches in the Rugby Road area also offer convenient, legal parking– for a price.

But first year students, existing as they do in a pre-Honor Code-fatigue state, might feel a twinge of guilt at evading University rules. Honor Committee Chairman Christopher Smith, however, has a hard time finding the problem in avoiding University parking.

"I don't think simply having a car in Charlottesville would fall under the framework of lying, cheating, or stealing," says Smith, citing the three variations of Honor offenses. "But if the student were to lie about it and say that he or she did not have a car in Charlottesville, that could be considered an Honor offense."

Honor aside, bringing a vehicle on the sly can still result in a less serious but still potentially damaging University Judiciary Committee trial.

"The rule is not to have a car in Charlottesville or Albemarle County, "says Senior Associate Dean of Students Shamim Sisson.

"If it comes to our attention, then what we normally do is talk with the student," continues Sisson. If the student persists in violating policy, he is "at risk of losing future parking privileges."

The University claims to have the best interests of students (and traffic-jam-weary locals) in mind when it bans first year cars. In the first few weeks of school, resident advisors warn students against trafficking.

"We don't encourage them to [have cars] because we try to kind of force them to stay in town," says Morgan Taylor, an RA at Cauthen dorm, "so they get used to being part of the community and don't run off every weekend."

First year students can, of course, get valid exemptions to the no-car rule. Dean Sisson says that students with ongoing health- or employment-related issues can still apply for temporary or permanent parking permits.

But it's still possible to get an exemption when competitive-level excercise is at stake. Sarah Hansel was a first year and equestrian in need of transportation when Dean Sisson's generosity paid off for her.

"I wrote a letter to Dean Sisson saying that I was preparing for a three-day [event] and needed to be able to condition the horse twice a day to prepare," says Hansel, now a fourth year. "I made a big deal about how serious I was about my riding, and she was more than happy to give me permission."

 

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