Appealing to students
While it may not match the flair of “Better Call Saul,” Student Government is using a touch of pizzazz to let students know about its parking appeals service.
“Two guys. One appeal process” is the motto for Solicitor General Daniel Christopher and Attorney General Alex Johnson, who stand tall together on the fliers handed out around campus.
“A lot of students don’t know that our positions exist or even what the attorney general and the solicitor general do,” Christopher said. “We were looking for ways to brand our office and brand our services to the students.”
Many students have experienced getting a parking ticket, usually after parking in a wrong spot or after seeing how long they can get away with not buying a parking pass for the new semester. But Johnson said not every student is aware of parking appeals.
“(We wanted) to make sure the students know that there is an appeals process and also to just familiarize the faces of who is going to be helping them,” Johnson said.
When a student first gets a ticket they can appeal to Parking and Transportation Services, run by the university’s administration. The most convenient option is to log in to usf.edu/parking and submit a written description of why he or she feels the ticket was unjustified.
From there, the office will either overturn the citation or decide to uphold it. In some cases, the fine might be reduced.
If the student still feels the citation is unjust, the next step is to appeal to Student Government’s Supreme Court.
The court sets a date for the student to come in and complete a written or oral appeal. Students can also log in to the Student Government website to message Christopher about the circumstances of the citation and ask if he would be able to help them with it.
Of all the thousands of parking citations given out every semester, around 100 students will go through the appeal process in front of the Supreme Court. Out of those appeals, Christopher said around 20 appeals are often overturned or the fine will be reduced.
“There are rules out there, but we are doing our best to make them clear to students,” Christopher said.
At Parking and Transportation Services, Johnson and Christopher work as partners to inform students of the correct parking rules, and if those rules are not clear, then they work together to make the rules clearer for students.
The appeal process works like a checks and balance system. If the definition of the rule was unclear, then Christopher can argue that and get the fine reduced for students. But if the rule is clear, then Christopher works to help the student understand why he or she received that citation.
“Both sides understand the system and both sides appreciate the system,” Christopher said.
Last semester, Christopher helped four students get a reduced fine after coming to him for a consult and representing them in court.
Besides helping students with parking citations, the duo is also bringing in legal aid to help students with any outside incidents they may need legal advice on.
The back of the flier gives the information about local lawyers coming to campus Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for 15-minute consultations with students in need of advice.
“I think that it –is better for students to know that they can come to a fellow student and try to get their problems resolved,” Johnson said.
The fliers will continue to be passed around, Johnson said, for as long as students have a need for legal help.
“We all know college students most likely don’t work a job that pays a lot of money, we most likely work a job like Burger King and places like that,” Johnson said. “The general college student most likely cannot afford to just go out and hire two hours worth of an attorney.”