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Public Safety really needs to cool it with the parking tickets

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels disconnected from Public Safety at Mills. Yeah, they can be useful when you need a lift to your dorm from the Tea Shop or when you’ve forgotten your key to get into a building, but really, what else are they doing for the students? If it’s providing protection, then you can pat the back of the Public Safety officer I drove by the other night:  head down, asleep, at the front gate at 1 a.m.

As a resident here, I’ve found parking to be quite easy at Mills. Most places on campus accommodate us, so I’ve gotten by without any  tickets — until I met someone who seemed to be the newest, youngest and most eager Public Safety officer, whose name I will respectfully not include in this article.

I had just come home to Larsen after dropping off a friend at Mary Morse when I noticed the white Ford truck with the ugly orange cones in the back had pulled up right behind me.

The officer approached my window and asked me if I was in a hurry. Without even listening to my answer, he said, in what I’m sure was his most authoritative voice, “I’m an officer for Mills Public Safety” — like I didn’t already know that.  He asked me if I was aware I had just passed six stop signs without stopping. I said no. Had it not been for his demeanor, I might have paused to argue.

In my defense, I believe I stopped at all of the stop signs except for one. The first thing that came to my mind was, “Is your day so boring you need to chase me down to issue me a $360 ticket, an amount that will undoubtedly impress your boss?”

I accepted his ticket with a smile, although I wanted to tell him he’s part of a system continuing to make Mills students feel not protected but annoyed.

On top of tuition and all the other expenses that Mills seems to be happy to tack on these days, I now have to deal with Public Safety feeling like it’s okay to give a student who has more important things to do — like, let’s say, study for midterms — a ticket because s/he doesn’t sit still for a full six seconds at a stop sign on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

I’m not the only one who has had these tedious, annoying problems. Why does my friend who’s on crutches have to be 30 minutes late for class because Public Safety couldn’t pick her up from her dorm? Why are the officers sleeping at the front gate while on duty? Why did an officer just stand there when a man from Oakland was heckling my friend and me at the front gate, even driving his car menacingly toward us?

I’m not calling out all the Public Safety officers. There are some really nice officers who I feel are an important part of the community. I can tell by how they talk and relate to me that they do care about the well-being of Mills and its students, but for those who just want to climb the ladder and want to get in the good graces of their boss by reaching a quota, I say:  Bite me. I say this because the same day I got my ticket, I found out that another student got a ticket for about $200 from the same officer.

I’m not sure if this ticket issuing is supposed to teach us all a lesson or something, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s surely that Public Safety needs to redefine its priorities and relationship with students.