Last week, The Collegian’s Megan Morales wrote a three-part investigation of University Police Department and their potential lawsuit from Fresno County. After weeks of waffling and presenting incomplete information, it is clear that Fresno State Police Chief David Huerta must make transparency a bigger priority at UPD.
It’s not surprising when the press gets the runaround in sensitive matters like UPD’s debt to the county, but after administrators at two other California State University campuses readily supplied The Collegian with detailed parking information, UPD’s lack of transparency is laughable.
Amy Armstrong, the department’s public information officer, and Huerta provided The Collegian with very little information regarding where parking ticket money goes. Although we were able to find out that UPD received $840,000 in parking tickets in 2009-10 alone, none of that money is accounted for. Also not accounted for are the millions of dollars UPD collected from parking tickets in the last 10-12 years.
Although Huerta said that the money is going toward the Red Bike program, most of the bikes in the program are old and in need of repair. He said UPD isn’t planning to purchase new bikes anytime soon. If UPD is using the money for the Red Bike program like they say they are, then Fresno State students should be riding to class on bikes comparable to those in Lance Armstrong’s garage.
UPD, it is time to tell us where the money we pay for parking tickets goes.
More questions than answers came out of last week’s investigation. Aside from where the money is going, UPD needs to explain why they stopped paying county fees, who in their legal counsel advised that they stop paying the fees and why this issue is coming to light now after more than a decade of evading the payment of money owed to the county. They also need to be clear about how much money they owe after ten years of not paying county fees.
The biggest question, though, is this: Who is paying these fees? Obviously the money has to come from University Police, but if they won’t tell us how they’ve been using the money, who’s to say they even have the money to pay Fresno County? Will they pull from other sectors of the school, or will they increase the amount of parking tickets they give out to campus parking violators?
In a bad economy like the one we’re in now, students are paying more for less. Tuition will increase by more than 15 percent by fall 2011, financial aid is becoming scarce for those who need it most and students are getting less bang for their buck, with the lucky ones able to enroll in overcrowded classrooms.
The last thing students need is a bureaucratic University Police Department that is too busy using their funds irresponsibly to do their jobs.