Student pays parking fines with 11,000 pennies
Photo courtesy of Stephan Coyle.
Stephan Coyle, a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, recently decided to protest the university’s fee structure by paying his $110 parking fine with 11,000 pennies.
The 26-year old rising senior decided to pay off two parking tickets he received in June with pennies after learning where the money from the fees went.
According to North Carolina law, which Coyle found on the UNCC parking website, only 20% of the funds from fees stay at the university to cover parking enforcement. The remaining 80% goes back to the state for other public institutions, like middle and high schools.
Coyle told ABC news that he understood the purpose for the citations but not why the money was leaving the campus. "We have a beautiful campus, but there's some severely neglected buildings”, said the senior. “Lecture halls have missing seats, ceiling tiles are missing — some of that money can be reinvested into the buildings."
To prepare for his demonstration, Coyle had to go to three different banks to get five boxes of pennies worth $25 each—2,500 pennies per box. He took the pennies into the parking office in buckets.
It took workers in the parking office, roughly three hours and 40 minutes to count all the pennies by hand.
Since his initial demonstration, the story has gone viral. There is now a Facebook page called Let Them Count that hopes to spread awareness for the allocations of parking fines. There is also a T-Shirt campaign and a GoFundMe set up for the purpose of helping student organizations pay for things the fees could have otherwise been allocated too.
In an interview with Campus Reform, Coyle said the episode is telling of a larger problem.
“This small issue that I am protesting just brings to light a more [troubling concern]”, said Coyle, who noted that the financial issues schools face today need to be examined and funding methods reformed.
Coyle also says he understands that many think the school would abuse the newfound funds, but suggests that that the 80% that originally went to the state could be allocated to scholarships and student organizations.
The parking office at UNCC responded with humor on twitter:
Sorry - we don't know why old tweets are being spat from our Twitter accounts. Hope it's not copper poisoning from counting pennies.— UNCC Parking (@UNCCparking) July 10, 2015
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