February 1, 1999

Ticket appeals hampered by student carelessness

by Josh Renaud
of The Current staff

Some students are filing ticket appeals and then shooting themselves in the foot, said Steve Bartok, the student court chief justice, and he is concerned about it.

At the Jan. 21 Student Government Association meeting, Bartok explained that the court has noticed several troubling trends. One of those is a large number of appeal decisions that were sent to the addresses written on the appeals forms, but returned by the post office because the addresses were incorrect.

"Right now we have two dozen appeal decision letters sitting in the office waiting for the correct address," Bartok said. "We can't track all [the students] down, so we just wait for them to call us."

Some of the students who fill out the ticket appeal forms need to work on their penmanship, Bartok said.

"We are really starting to have trouble reading some of the stuff that is on these appeals forms," he said. "If it takes as many as three judges to try and figure out what somebody's name is, then just forget it."

Most disturbing to Bartok, though, are the students who have confrontations with the UM-St. Louis Police Department.

"Instead of going and getting an appeals form and asking how to fill it out, some students go to the police station," Bartok said. "They go in ticked off and use four-letter language. The police are just trying to do their job and make sure the rules are enforced. When students go into the police station hot under the collar, I find out from the officers, and we take that into account."

In most cases, Bartok said, students will find out the decision on their ticket appeal before it gets entered in the police computer. He said students should avoid calling the police to find out the status of their appeal, because the police usually don't know.

Bartok admitted that the ticket appeal process can be slow, but he urged students to be patient as they wait for a decision.

"We don't have a computer or copier right now, so all this stuff is being done by hand," Bartok said. "It's being done by three people and [students are] complaining that we're taking too long to do the job. If [students] aren't going to do what they need to do, it just slows everything down."

If a student is issued a ticket, there are ways to make the ticket appeal process go faster, Bartok said. The key is not to get frustrated, but to wait a couple of weeks, he said.

"What they need to do first is stay calm," he said. "They need to make sure that all their personal information is clearly written on the appeal. Their statement needs to be clearly written also. If I can't read something, then [the appeal] is automatically denied."

To save time, Bartok suggested that students attach the actual ticket to the appeal. Relevant information, such as the names and phone numbers of people who can verify the appeal statement or photographs that back it up can make the judges' jobs much easier.

"It's like a puzzle and everybody has their own little piece, Bartok said, "but the judges get stuck trying to put it together."

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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