Parking passes: increasing security on campus


Chitkala Alli

Bright yellow parking passes hang from the rearview mirrors of almost every student’s car on campus. This measure was instituted in an effort to monitor that only approved students are driving to school every day. That is, those with a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance.

Getting on and off of campus is no easy feat, a fact known to almost all White Station students. On top of that, getting in and out of parking lots every morning and afternoon is an unavoidable fiasco that student drivers endure daily. An influx of security measures in recent years may be the culprit behind it all. 

“Honestly, I think it’s [the school] trying to enforce more regulations this year because last year was our first year back and things were all over the place and we were trying to figure things out,” Matthew Kelley (11) said. “This year, I guess they’re trying to bring us back to normal which we will never be.”

Tighter security can be seen all over campus from police officers stationed in every building to metal detectors at various doorways, but an older security measure has made its way back into circulation this year — parking passes. This small yellow slip is now every student driver’s “golden ticket” into the parking lots. However, not all drivers are immediately eligible to receive this pass. 

“There is a criteria that you have to meet,” 10th grade assistant principal Linda McClora-Harvey said. “The main things are: you have to have a valid driver’s license [and] you have to have proof of insurance. That’s basically it, if you have those things — and [pay] a $10 fee — you can purchase a parking space.”

For many students, this criteria seems fairly reasonable. The opportunities for accidents are multiplied in a parking lot full of teenage drivers, which provides all the more reason for proper documentation of a valid driver’s license and insurance. But, some students have reservations about the cost of these passes. 

“It’s not too expensive, but it’s more than I wanted to spend,” Kate Engstrom (12) said. “Ten dollars is a lot [and] there’s not a point. [But], I mean obviously there’s the benefit of having everyone’s insurance on file and the office knows that everyone has a license and they’re supposed to be driving to school.” 

Engstrom, like many other students, feel that the parking passes are pointless overall. Some students argue that a lot of the security measures at school seem to be enforced for a short period of time but are quickly shoved to the bottom of a seemingly unending list of regulations for administration to keep an eye on. 

“Every kind of more serious thing the school tries to implement, they just don’t follow through with it,” Kelley said. “So, there’s really just a lot of ‘Oh, it’s stupid,’ because we already know that in the end it’s not going to be enforced. If they do right now, by the end of the semester they won’t care.” 

However, security on campus has remained a top priority for administration since the start of the school year. Unfortunately, with a rise in violent crimes in Memphis, schools need to crack down that much more, making sure that only people who are supposed to be at school are on campus. 

“The ultimate goal with the passes is to make sure there are no intruders,” McClora-Harvey said. “We need to make sure that the people who are on campus are supposed to be on campus. This is a very open campus and it’s easy for people to come and go, so we’re trying to keep everybody safe. The whole thing is safety.”

The scary reality is that the threat may not come onto campus, it could already be on school grounds. A notice has been posted on the front door for as long as the following policy has existed: “When individual circumstances in a school dictate it, a principal may order that vehicles parked on school property by students or visitors, containers, packages, lockers or other enclosures used for storage by students or visitors, and other areas accessible to students or visitors be searched in the Principal’s presence or in the presence of other members of the Principal’s staff.”

“It’s important, because security and things are so tight now, that we know who’s parking on campus,” McClora-Harvey said. “Schools reserve the right to search anything that’s on campus …  So, if there’s anything in the parking lot, we can get that student and search their car if it’s necessary.”

Most students are aware of this policy yet pay no mind to it since it will most likely never affect them directly. But that air of nonchalance sometimes blankets fears surrounding the unnerving parallels of modern high schools to detention centers. 

“It honestly made me really anxious because it’s like I should be able to go to class just to go to class, be able to go to school just to go to school,” Kelley said. “Every other week some school is on some lockdown. There’s been so many gun related incidents in Memphis lately. I’m just really, really sick of it. It’s really draining having to worry about your friends’ or family’s safety every single day.”

Though the passes have different implications for each student, many can agree that safety is a strong benefit to the system. Whether that safety is in terms of preventing accidents or intruders, creating a secure environment is in the forefront of many administrators’ minds. 

“I think it’s so important,” McClora-Harvey said. “Especially with this open campus, we have to really be as diligent as we possibly can to make sure the people who are here are supposed to be here.”