Editorial: New parking permits raise issues

Editorial Staff

Starting this fall, parking permits will be color-coded according to how long students have had their license. This policy blurs the line between school policy and the law.

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The new parking permits are intended to reduce the frequency of students breaking provisional license rules during the school day. This is reasonable. During school hours, we are the school’s responsibility, so they have an obligation to enforce the rules.

According to the law, police cannot pull someone over simply because he or she looks underage.  Having a school permit on the back of your car doesn’t change this.

At this point it’s unclear whether or not the police know about the parking permits. But they’ll catch on soon, if they haven’t already.

Although they can’t pull someone over solely based on having the sticker on the car, it definitely increases suspicions. And despite the illegality, a cop could see the sticker, think there’s a violation of the rules of a provisional license, and pull them over under some other pretense.

Whether or not this was the intention of the program, the end result is that the school is aiding the police in pulling over and ticketing students.

Schools are supposed to be places of trial and error, places of learning. School discipline is fairly lenient as it takes into account the still-developing minds of teenagers. If students break a school rule, they will be punished. But the punishment will be minimal and there will be someone there to guide them on making a better decision next time.

The legal system regarding driving, on the other hand, is punitive.  It’s meant to keep society in check by offering negative incentives to those who break laws.  While certain situations can be more forgiving than others, in general, if someone a breaks a law, he or she is a criminal. And there will be at least a fine.

We know the school is just trying to keep us safe, but mixing school and law enforcement sends the wrong message to students.

Additionally, using parking permits as a way to monitor student driving is going beyond the passes’ purpose. The parking permits are meant to be just that, a permit that guarantees one’s ability to park in the limited school lots.  They aren’t meant to have anything to do with actual driving.

The visibility of the permits is the most problematic part. If the location can be changed, it might not be such an issue.

If the permits only matter during school hours, then perhaps they can be put on the front of the car instead. That way, the supervisors who stand in front of the parking lot will be able to tell the difference, but it won’t be seen from behind by the police.

But as the permit policy stands now, the school is taking away the forgiving, learning environment that it’s supposed to provide, and instead handing students over to the unsheltered real world.

We know that the school can only protect us during the week, but they shouldn’t be hindering us on the weekends. Having law enforcement and the school work together, criminalizes students.