Student parking coordinators say night shifts at UI vary in safety

UI student employees at UI Parking and Transportation are expected to cover night shifts at the four of the seven parking ramps on campus. Though safety is said to be top priority, some roles are more protected than others.


Reba Zatz

Student J. P Amply works in the North Parking Ramp on Feb. 19.

Annie Fitzpatrick, News Reporter

University of Iowa Parking & Transportation student employees working night shifts report some safety concerns depending on their positions in the department.

With seven parking ramps across the UI campus, four of which require overnight hours, student employees are expected to cover night and day shifts throughout the week to ensure parking efficiency.

UI sophomore Madison Hanson, who studies medical anthropology, works as a coordinator covering shifts from 5 p.m. until 3 a.m. on Sundays. She said her role involves dropping off and picking up student cashiers, as well as counting the cars in each ramp.

Hanson said that though safety is a priority for cashier positions, Parking & Transportation could do a better job providing safety for coordinators.

“Safety is a priority for our cashiers, for sure — coordinators, not so much, just because you’re on your own, and we have to go through and count all the cars that are in all the ramps,” she said. “So we’re doing that alone at like 2 a.m.”

Hanson said she has experienced situations that have made her feel unsafe.

“I’ve actually had to call Public Safety when I was working in a booth, because a customer decided they didn’t want to pay the $1.80 or whatever it was,” she said. “And they kind of lunged at me through their car window.”

UI junior Tanner Edwards, a Parking & Transportation cashier, works a night shift in addition to two day shifts every week.

“I’ve found that you really have to plan your schedule out, because I know for me, it throws my sleep schedule off for like a day if I don’t have a good plan around eating and sleeping that fits that schedule,” he said.

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Edwards said students have the option to work one night shift a week or a weekend shift. He said that with his schedule, it makes more sense to work a night shift.

“The overnight is still an option. You could completely not work an overnight, but you’d have to work on the weekend … so the only way out of a weekend shift is working an overnight during the week,” he said.

Parking & Transportation communication manager April Wells said that safety is the “first priority” for student employees, especially on the night shifts. However, she said, specific information could not be disclosed about safety protocol.

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“The reason I think it is important to not give out a lot of specifics is that the reason those safety and security measures are effective is because they’re not known to the general public,” she said. “So someone wouldn’t know how to work around that or to know where vulnerability in our process is.”

Edwards said that in terms of safety, he has never been “really worried” about working an overnight shift. He said that cashier booths are equipped with a light, cameras, and a landline phone for communication with the main office at Parking & Transportation.

Wells said most student employees working night shifts prefer those hours because they fit into their schedules. She said that, above all, safety is the main priority.

“I would recommend it to another student. As far as necessities go for a student …” Edwards said. “A lot of students need to work to buff out paying for college expenses. It’s a good paying job — you can get your hours that you need, they’re willing to work with your schedule as a student,”

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