Many things have changed since March of this year. Some in small ways and others have been altered entirely for the sake of public health and safety. Parking is no exception.

Students may have noticed when going to renew their parking passes that they no longer receive the plastic decal that they hook on their car mirror.

Instead, campus police now sue License Plate Recognition to identify vehicles parked on campus. Students, faculty, and staff register vehicles into the system through the parking portal available at the APSU parking website.

Most cars are parked in a way that displays their license plates so the police can scan them to confirm their status of being re-registered parkers. But when students, faculty, or staff park in a way that obscures their license plate, police have no way of reading them.

To address this campus police have added another feature to public parking on campus. They are selling vanity plates that can be placed on the other end of the vehicle, opposite their license plate, so that police can validate students’ right to on-campus parking regardless of how they park.

Without the vanity plate, the student must always park in a way that clearly displays the automobile’s state-issued plate so that the police can verify their legitimacy to parking as they make their rounds.

But with the acquirement of these new vanity plates, one does not have to worry about this.

The basis for this new implementation in student parking is not due to COVID-19. Rather, it fulfills many reasons that are based on logical convenience.

“The parking office began working on this last Fall and the purpose is multifaceted. It reduces waste by eliminating the need for plastic decals, will reduce costs, and make the department more efficient from an operational standpoint,” Bill Persinger, executive director of public relations and marketing, said.

How it works is with scanners on the roof of an electric Nissan Leaf. The scanners have the ability to recognize license plates and instantly flag unregistered vehicles. It also photographs the plate and vehicle, along with time-stamping the vehicle with GPS coordinates in regards to its location.

If one does not have this particular vanity plate and does not have their state-issued plate directed towards the lane to where officers can see them, he or she risks being fined.

“There will be a fine if the violation continues. Anyone can park with their state-issued tag facing the parking access lanes. There is no penalty for not purchasing the vanity plate. The vanity plate is optional. However, without a vanity plate one must pull nose-first into a parking stall,” Persinger said.

The vanity plates cost ten dollars for a one-time purchase. If one loses theirs or is destroyed, then they will have to buy another one.

Additionally, students should keep in mind that the plates do not pay for their annual parking fee, as the plate is a separate purchase.