Safety and Transportation

Missouri State University’s Office of University Safety is under investigation by the Missouri Attorney General’s office, according to an Aug. 1 release by Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

“As a university, we take great pride in providing a safe and fair environment for our students and visitors,” Missouri State University President Clif Smart said in a release.

The attorney general’s office said in the release whistleblowers contacted them and said the Office of University Safety allegedly encouraged university safety officers to write more parking tickets in a way that would help in “satisfying quotas of parking tickets, and increasing the number of boots placed upon cars, in an effort to further increase revenue for the university and to hire additional officers.”

Whistleblowers contacted the attorney general’s office with these claims because they feared they were breaking the law by following instructions from their supervisors in the Office of University Safety, the release said.

In addition, the release stated, “Reports are that safety officers were told to ‘step up’ their ticket counts. One supervisor appears to have told officers to ‘show people what we are made of.’”

If these allegations are true, the university violated Senate Bill 5, which was signed into law in July 2015. Schmitt said in the release Senate Bill 5 and other related legislation “guards against taxation by citation.”

“Students attending Missouri State University already have enough financial burden between tuition, books, boarding and more,” Schmitt said in the release. “Overzealously ticketing on campus only subjects students to more financial struggles.”

In response to these allegations, the university released a statement the same day saying they have not been provided specific details of these allegations, nor do they know the date the investigation will end. However, university officials will cooperate fully with the investigation and provide any information needed, the statement read.

“If the investigation finds that any of our practices violated the law, we will take all necessary actions to promptly correct the situation,” Smart said in the release.

“We look forward to working with Missouri State University and the Office of University Safety to solve the issue quickly and fairly,”Schmitt said in the release.

Dre Hathaway, a senior business management major, said he would like to see parking at the university improve in light of this event.

“I feel as if (MSU) needs to somehow, someway fix the parking issues because it has been going on too long,” Hathaway said. “We’re college students trying to make it to class. I understand the other side but $25 a ticket can run up a ‘poor broke college student.’”

Chris Andrews graduated from MSU in 2012 with a degree in general business. He said he received three tickets during his time at MSU.

“I would hope that the allegations are not true — that MSU is truly not using its security officers to siphon money from its students,” Andrews said. “Certainly, you can’t allow individuals without parking permits to park at will on campus, nor can they be allowed to park for hours on end at expired meters, but the speed with which tickets are written is suspect to me.”

Many members of the Missouri State community took to social media to share their thoughts on the allegations, including Nicholas Brown, who didn’t see a problem with MSU’s ticketing procedures thus far.

This story will be updated. 

Sarah is The Standard's 2019-2020 Editor in Chief. She has a background in editing, writing, radio and photography. She spent the 2018-2019 school year in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa.