Hometown: McKinney, TX
Ah, student parking on college campuses. Now that’s something that has never stirred up any kind of controversy or anger from anyone, ever.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to pay even more to park at a University they already pay tens of thousands of dollars to attend?
First of all, naturally, there are never enough parking spaces in the first place. But, hey, it’s not all bad! It makes parking into fun games like “Who’s willing to get into a wreck for that open spot?”, “Am I going to find a spot in time to get to class?” and “Dodge the two dudes in a fistfight over that spot!”
Fun and games aside, students are charged even more for parking in “unpermitted” spaces, despite there not being enough permitted spaces. By the way, that overwhelmingly does not apply to spaces that workers need, which is a perfectly good reason to have off-limits spots. No, that applies almost always to the parking lot over, which is nearly empty at all times of the day, for reasons unknown.
Meanwhile, in the lots their permits are for, students circle among the rows of cars like sharks, looking for the brake lights of someone backing out so that they can pounce—every man for himself; there are no friends here. And sometimes the permitted lots are so far away from campus that it’s legitimately a shorter distance for students to walk to class from home rather than the parking lot.
(On a side note, parking for university professors is sometimes, somehow, worse. Their lots can be even farther away, though it’s doubtful they get into fistfights over them like those frat bros.)
Some colleges, like Texas Christian University, claim to have enough parking, despite students stating the opposite. They follow that up by constructing new buildings over more than one parking lot, sparking the student nickname “Texas Construction University.” (No, they do not build replacement lots.) Still, the constant, deliberate removal of parking spaces doesn’t earn TCU the top spot for “students most irritated at the parking situation.”
Recently, the University of Oklahoma attempted to spice things up by introducing a new and creative way to charge students more money for parking their cars. They decided to employ a windshield “barnacle,” a device that clamps onto a car’s windshield to block the driver’s view. This can be removed by paying a fine. If you were thinking of trying to drive anyway, think again—the barnacle has a deafening alarm that sounds when it senses movement.
OU claims that the barnacle is a more convenient and cheaper alternative to towing, completely missing the issue in the first place.
However, they failed to take into account that college students are: 1) poor, 2) creative, and 3) desperate. (Likely the people making this decision have never been any of the three.) Put plainly, any combination of those is a formidable one—even more so these days, now that poor, creative, desperate individuals can come together online via sites like Twitter.
Aside from the general premise, one of the things that makes this barnacle so ridiculous is that it’s often cheaper to replace the windshield altogether than to pay the fine. Replacement is the more appealing option to many, not least of which because it’s a big “screw you” to the system. There’s an even cheaper option, though: for anyone out there living under a barnacle, rest assured that there’s already plenty of solutions online for removing it yourself, bypassing the fine entirely.
Following intense criticism on Twitter, OU has employed the elegant strategy of take-backsies (with the caveat that they can reinstate the car barnacle with a 30-day advance notice). OU students, your Twitter escapades have saved you—until further notice.
“I was taken aback by the severity of the backlash,” said the runner of OU’s Twitter account. “I had no idea charging students a few hundred more dollars on top of their thousands in debt would cause such outrage.”
The makers of the car barnacle have yet to comment on the missed opportunity of naming this device the “Carnacle,” further highlighting that they’re a bunch of heathens.