University can prevent ‘automotive kidnapping’

DeKalb has often been referred to as “The Land of Corn.”

But I think it’s time we start calling it the land of tow-away zones.

I—like most students—have seen too many other students chasing after tow trucks and shouting obscenities as their cars are hauled off.

Something must be done.

This problem has lasted too long and will only get worse—not better—with time.

It’s easy to blame the towing companies. After all, they are the ones who do the towing.

But the towing companies are just performing a service which lack of attention to this problem has made necessary.

If you are looking for someone to blame, blame the university—because in order to solve this problem, some unpopular decisions are going to have to be made. As you may or may not know, university administrators take a long time before they make unpopular decisions.

Wait a minute. I should clarify that last statement.

Administrators take a long time to make decisions which are unpopular with the faculty. They have shown very little concern however, for what’s unpopular with the students, i.e., the Rec Center, the Pow Wow, etc.

This might come as a surprise to students out there, but the university is just now giving the parking problem some serious consideration but only because the faculty members are starting to complain louder than they ever have before.

No doubt, some changes will probably be made in the university parking policy if the faculty whine loud enough.

And what will these changes be?

Well don’t be surprised if freshmen are no longer allowed to have cars. I really don’t see anything wrong with this. I was a freshman once and it seemed to me that most cars in the residence hall lots just sat there all week and suddenly vanished on the weekends—only to reappear Sunday night to occupy a new space.

The university probably also will reduce the number of permits it hands out. And it’s about time.

But this action will also cause an increase in the parking fee. And If I hear one faculty member complain about this—and surely some will—I think I’ll ask them to pay my parking tickets and towing fines. After all, any reasonable increase in a parking fee is cheaper than a couple of city parking tickets or retrieving a car from a towing company.

Yes, don’t worry, students. Now that this problem is bringing the faculty to a boiling point, it is very possible that something will be done—finally.

But until any changes are made, students will still be subjected to city and university parking tickets—as well as the practices of some towing companies which amount to nothing less than “automotive kidnapping.”

Yes—”automotive kidnapping.”

That’s when you park where you shouldn’t have because there is no other space. Upon your return to that spot, you realize your car is no longer there.

You call the company responsible for relocating your vehicle and discover they only accept cash. I’m sure the IRS just loves how easy it is to keep track of cash-only transactions.

After you scrounge up the dough, an employee of the company meets you somewhere and says he has to see the cash before he takes you to your car. And when you get to your car, you realize that no one is watching it and anyone—including yourself—could have walked up to the car and taken it.

The city of DeKalb has already forced the towing companies to put a limit on their fees, but they haven’t gone far enough. Towing companies should be required to keep towed cars in a secure lot and also be able to at least take credit cards.

Until these problems are solved, people will continue to get screwed.