Penny for Your Thoughts: Student Pays Fine

Photo Credit: Morguefile

Photo Credit: Morguefile

College is great, but it is expensive. A student at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte, figured out recently that sometimes collegiate expenses are a little out of this world. Meet Stephen Coyle, a 26-year-old student at the school. He received two parking tickets from the university in June and paid the $110 fine in pennies. That’s right, your little, copper colored friends with Abraham Lincoln’s profile on them. He paid in pennies.

It wasn’t that Coyle thought he didn’t deserve the parking tickets. The penny-paying was in protest to some information he quickly learned. Apparently, the university uses 80 percent of that money to “redistribute to other schools instead of keeping it on campus.” This is all according to Coyle, who claims that injustice pushed him to collect 11,000 pennies.

All in all, Coyle doesn’t have a lot of bad things to say about his school. He understands why he got the parking tickets, even. “We have a beautiful campus,” he remarks. But he does comment that many of the buildings are “severely neglected.” That was why he was shocked to discover on UNC’s website that the policy is to donate 80 percent of parking fines to the state. That means only 20 percent goes to help the campus itself. That just didn’t sit well with Coyle.

Reportedly, he went to three banks in the area to collect the massive amount of pennies. When he turned the money in, he had three buckets. Beforehand, he sent an email to parking and transportation services to explain why he’d be showing up with three buckets of pennies.

When he got there, Coyle says he was met with “opposition” and the lady ordered him to count the pennies while she watched. To that, Coyle argued that it didn’t seem right for him to have to do that, and counting the money was now “their responsibility” and not his. He reports that he was “really nice about it.” Grudgingly, the office was forced to accept the payment because pennies are a legal form of currency. It’s not like Coyle turned in Monopoly bucks, right?

Coyle also mentions that to count the pennies, the office needed two employees and three hours and 40 minutes. Well, well, well. When he met with those employees, he says he “apologized immediately” and explained his protest. Apparently, they were fine with it. The only person the protest truly upset was the office manager.

Ultimately, Coyle has his sights set on changing the statute so that the school can keep all of its parking ticket funds to help itself. He says that a number of students want to be part of his protest, which he calls, “Let Them Count.”

We feel kind of split on this issue. While we see Coyle’s point about the school being able to help itself, we’re also a little glad they’re helping the rest of the state. It’s complicated to just take one side. What do you think about the protest? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

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