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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘I had done everything right’: Students with disabilities receive citations despite registered ADA parking

ADA+parking+spaces+on+Dec.+6.
Courtney Brown
ADA parking spaces on Dec. 6.

Two students with disabilities said they had received tickets for parking in their registered ADA parking spaces at Wichita State.

Both Zaylee Bell and Mia Dennett said they registered for the Americans with Disabilities Act parking spaces but have still received parking citations multiple times.

Bell, a sophomore, said this problem has occurred twice, first in fall of 2022 and then again in spring of 2023. Dennett, a theater major, said she has received citations about five times since starting WSU in fall of 2022.

According to WSU Parking Services, students with a state disabled parking placard or plate must register their vehicle and purchase an ePermit, like other students. They also must upload their Disabled Identification Card when purchasing “to eliminate your risk of receiving a citation.”

Bell and Dennett both said they have uploaded their disability identification cards to the WSU parking portal, as required, and their permits are visible on their vehicles.

“I have one of the cars with – on the tag, it has a little handicap symbol. And in the picture for the tickets, you can see the symbol,” Bell, a wheelchair user, said.

Bell said one citation was given in the ADA parking space in The Suites parking lot, which she found ironic due to how often she has found other students without the ADA tag parking there.

“I cannot tell you how many times I would come to the dorm and park, and there might be one or none handicap spots because people thought it was okay to go ahead and park in one of those spots, even if they didn’t have the handicap tag,” Bell said.

Bell said she contacted Autumn Fitten from the Office of Disability Services about the parking citation, and she and Fitten both contacted Parking Services.

“Nobody knew why I got it, and they were so confused,” Bell said. “But they didn’t take it off, and I’m like, ‘I’m not paying this. I have proof I’ve paid for my parking pass.’”

Bell said it took multiple calls and eventually her mother stepping in before Parking Services removed the ticket.

“As Autumn said, (the citations) shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” Bell said. “And it’s really confusing why it happened twice.”

Dennett called the “reoccurring” ADA parking citations “frustrating.”

“I had to go out of my way to resolve the issue when I had done everything right to have access to that (ADA) spot,” Dennett said.

Dennett, a mobility aid user, said there are not many accessible parking spots on campus, and often, they’re far away from buildings, including Wilner Auditorium, where most her theater classes are held.

“There’s only one space in front of the building, and there’s more than one of us that needs the spot,” Dennett said. “So someone always has to go out of their way and potentially harm their bodies to walk a distance.” 

In November, when the accessible spot was taken, Dennett parked behind Wilner to attend her class there and received a ticket, which she appealed.

The WSU Parking Services website states that “in the unlikely event” that students cannot find an available ADA parking space, they can park in any parking space in any lot except for restricted or reserved stalls. 

Emily Martin, the parking and transportation manager at WSU Parking Services, said that Parking Services has only heard of students getting citations when they have not registered their ADA parking spots.

She said they usually issue a couple of warnings beforehand to let students know they should complete registration.

“If anyone does have an issue, I would definitely encourage them to contact us so we can look into it further,” Martin said. “At the end of the day, even though these are cameras and computers that are scanning them (the vehicles), with anything else, they’re still open for error, so it could just be that maybe the scanner read their license plate number wrong, or something of that nature.”

Martin said students work at the front desk of Parking Services, which is currently located in the University Police Department, and those students, as well as the administrator, can assist those with parking issues and citations.

“We’d rather people learn why they’re getting a citation, so that way we can help correct it, and they don’t have to get citations on the future,” Martin said.

 Students can also appeal citations on the parking section on their myWSU account. According to Martin, students have 20 days to appeal the ticket from when it is issued.

Dennett said that Wichita State should ensure that officers pay attention to accessible permits on vehicles. 

Bell emphasized the importance of ADA spots for people with mobility aids.

“(Other students) might see it as a luxury, but really … why we need those spots is because we need that extra room to get our mobility aids out and be able to get around vehicles,” Bell said.

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About the Contributor
Courtney Brown, News Editor
Courtney Brown is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. Brown uses she/her pronouns.

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