Park it at UMF

Park it at UMF

Colin Harris Contributing Writer

    Parking has been a long held complaint of many UMF students of all years, from freshman who dread the long walks from the parking lots by Prescott fields and behind the FRC to commuting upperclassmen who can never seem to find a spot. Another grievance is the sight of a parking ticket on the windshield. Annually, UMF collects roughly between $40,000 to $50,000 in parking-related expenses, including parking tickets, decals, and fines. 

    Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Brock Caton said in an email interview “I do not handle the finances for the University so I don’t know the specifics, but I do know that some of the revenue does support the UMF infrastructure to improve and maintain the parking lots on campus, including annual maintenance.” Such maintenance includes fixing the lots, painting lines, lighting and signage, among other things.

    Caton has been working for the department of public safety since October of 2012. He was originally hired as the Police Sergeant before taking over as the Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police in July of 2013.

    To avoid parking fees, Caton advises UMF students, as well as community members, to obtain a parking decal at the beginning of each year, to read the Parking Policy Brochure given out when given a parking decal, which is also available at Public Safety office located near the FRC, and to familiarize themselves with the parking lots around campus. 

Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police, Brock Caton. Photo Courtesy of UMF Website.

    Amy Hodge, a first-year student here at UMF has obtained numerous parking tickets in just their first semester of college. “As of right now I currently have four parking tickets from being here since fall semester.” 

    Hodge attributes these violations to parking in lots that were not designated to her. “Most, if not all, of the tickets I’ve gotten were from lot 7 [located between Scott Hall and Old South Congregational Church],” Hodge said. With this many tickets, Hodge has had to pay over $50 in parking fees so far. 

      “Parking ticket costs increase each time a ticket is issued,” Caton said. “First offense is $10 per violation. Second offense is $15 per violation. Third and subsequent offenses are $25 per violation.” It is important to note that a UMF community member can receive multiple violations per ticket.

    “Parking tickets not paid within 10 business days are assessed a $10 late fee, and the parking ticket is placed on the student’s account, which may create a hold on the account until paid,” Caton said.

    First-year students at UMF are assigned parking lots P18, located near Prescott Athletic Fields, P21 near Alice James Books, P22 which is next to P21 and P26 which is behind the FRC.

    Other repeat offenders of these parking rules include guests. Guests that plan on staying at UMF overnight or late at night need to obtain a guest parking decal. Caton said, “Guest parking decals are free and are good for 48 hours.” 

    The UMF parking brochure states that the objective of parking at UMF is, “to maximize the use of parking facilities so it is necessary to establish and enforce policies governing motor vehicles operating and/or parking on campus.

Director of Public Safety’s Tips To First-Year Students

By Grace McIntosh Contributing Writer

Brock Caton, director of Public Safety and Chief of Police, has a few words of advice for first year students to have a safe year at UMF.

   The number one thing Caton stresses most is vehicular security. “Always lock your vehicle,” said Caton. “We have had about five or six motor vehicle burglaries in the first week.”

   Caton also urges students to take care of their vehicles. “Check on your vehicle at least once a week and run your vehicle,” said Caton. “A lot of people don’t realize that if you don’t run your vehicle for months at a time your battery drains itself.” Snow removal around cars during the winter also falls under the responsibility of a resident. Caton suggests keeping a shovel and ice melt in the car.

   In regards to safety around campus, Caton says, “Get off your cellphones while walking. I think that’s a big thing. I try to tell everyone look both ways, and if you see vehicles, wave. Pedestrian traffic is a big safety thing.”

  Seven or eight years ago, a student was hit by oncoming traffic while crossing near Scott Hall according to Caton. Flashing lights are at many of the crosswalks surrounding UMF to prevent these kinds of accidents.

   “Always tell someone where you’re going. Farmington is relatively safe, we very rarely have stranger violence,” said Caton. “But, it’s still good to tell your roommate for example, ‘Hey, I am walking down to Mcdonalds I’ll be back in thirty minutes,’ or something like that. Always have your cellphone on you, you never know.” When it comes to the best defense mechanism, Caton advises for “strength in numbers” and bringing friends along instead of going places alone.

   Caton says that looking out for each other in the community is an important responsibility people should uphold. “Especially at a party with people drinking, escort the person, and even if they are on a party off-campus, get them out the door and away from the party,” said Caton. “Call us, we’ll come help you out.”

   Along with Public Safety, there are many resources on campus that are available to students. There are four areas the Center of Student Development specializes in: testing, career, advising and counseling. Director of the Center of Student Development (CSD) Bob Pederson said, “Last year we had over 5000 individual appointments among the four areas.”

  Caton works closely with Pederson to the benefit of the UMF community. “I sit down with Bob Pederson… we’re always constantly talking and communicating and trying to find better ways to deal with certain situations,” said Caton. When it comes to Pederson and Caton’s most important aspect of their job, maintaining a confidential and safe environment for students is on the top of their priority.

   Public Safety has contact with groups such as SAPARS, Safe Voices and various behavioral health services for students who might need them. “When in doubt, contact us, we have connections and can help you be put in the right direction,” said Caton.  

    Public Safety offers an escort program at night on campus so that if someone does not feel safe they can give the on-duty officer a call at (207)-778-7400.