Why we shouldn’t let FSU or Napleton Infiniti off the hook for the parking fiasco

Keep holding a grudge

This week, Florida State University announced that their parking garages would be open and free to the public. Tallahassee was enraged when they found Napleton Infiniti took up all the spots with their wholesale lot, leaving no room for FSU students and teachers to keep their cars safe. We can’t let this pass, and if you’re holding a grudge, good. We all should.

FSU is notorious for not having ample parking to support their student body. Last I heard, the rumor on campus was that they actually intentionally reduced parking to discourage incoming students from bringing their cars. I couldn’t tell you if this is true, but can confirm that student parking is a nightmare. I’m a former student myself.

Ask yourself a few preliminary questions:

How easy is it to find parking before your average on-campus class?

Would there be more or less demand for parking in structured garages during a hurricane, especially in a panhandle city where most residents decide to stick it out?

Should FSU have opened their parking garages to anyone aside from their faculty and students during a natural disaster? Maybe, but if you pay $40,000 a year to attend a university (including parking fees) and they open their parking garages to the public, shouldn't students and faculty get priority?

Here's what we know about the situation and the car dealership's relationship with FSU:

Napleton Infiniti has donated money to FSU. They sponsor the “Old School Open”, which hosts fundraiser events (Open Golf Tournament, etc.) for FSU owned charities and other charity organizations.

Despite these donations, FSU seemed to denounce Napleton Infiniti after the press outrage in Tallahassee, noting through their twitter account: “We have addressed the matter. The vehicles have been removed.” At 7:16pm on September 10th, 2017.

As of the morning of September 11th, a time-stamped photo posted by John Hightower sparked outrage online for contradicting FSU’s statement; the photo showed Naples Infiniti cars parked in FSU parking garages, after FSU tweeted that the cars “have been removed.” Students tweeted that Napleton Infiniti had allegedly been given permission to store their cars by FSU. Other social media users reported that “the same franchise [as Napleton Infiniti] owns a Hyundai in West Palm Beach and they did exactly the same thing there too.”

Initially, students felt confused by their university, and some sought help through other outlets like the Tallahassee Police Department and various news outlets. Their hopes were crushed when they realized not only are the Tallahassee Police aware of the circumstances, but that they’re intently surveying parking garages to protect the cars inside from vandalism or theft. How can this be? On Sunday, Napleton Infiniti was ordered to evacuate the parking garage. Yet, here their vehicles remain, being protected by armed law enforcement officials paid to protect the property of the student body.

After various harsh comments about the ethics regarding the entire debacle, FSU’s twitter account personally responded to me, noting that “The FSU Twitter Account shared the info avail at the time during deteriorating weather conditions. FSU is aware of the situation.”

If no red flags have yet been raised from the above presentation of facts, allow me to shed some light for you: this is clearly not okay. This behavior is unbecoming both of a university and of a company. This is an archetypal example of starch, unfeeling, predatory capitalism, and if FSU had nothing to do with Napleton Infiniti’s decision to move the cars in, FSU still did not do enough to protect their students’ property in a timely fashion.

Waiting for the hurricane to pass before evacuating Napleton Infiniti’s vehicles is the same as not evacuating them at all. FSU’s decision to open their parking garages to the public unconditionally, even if just long enough for Napleton Infiniti to legally protect their property.

Luckily, there is a checks and balances system for vicious, unfeeling capitalism. It’s called the press, and “complaining” to a news outlet “like the snowflake you are” is actually exactly what the hell you should be doing. This is despite what every irrelevant 40+ year old on the internet that has never attended FSU insists. Quelling public outrage after plainly unethical but likely legal business practice prevents offenders from getting what’s coming to them.

Individual boycotts might help if you’re considering purchasing a car from Napleton Infiniti. However, empirically and demographically, most victims were most likely low-income students or faculty that can’t afford that type of car.

Napleton Infiniti’s decision was calculated and they should have expected a public response. They evaluated risk versus reward and ultimately decided that the consequential press storm would cause them less monetary damage than had they stored their vehicles elsewhere. Inherently, there’s nothing wrong with this, but since the company has chosen to engage in capitalistic Darwinism, now it’s survival of the fittest. The only way for you to fight back is to teach them to reverse this behavior through facing the natural consequences of their decision. That is to say, the press reaction has to cause them more financial damage than they anticipated.

How can we do this? By being persistent. Push local media outlets to assist you in finding any questions you have either for Napleton Infiniti or FSU surrounding the incident. So long as there is sufficient public interest, the press will continue pushing this story. Let them know how you feel, but in ways more effective than social media or boycotting.

Vandalizing Napleton Infiniti property is an ineffective form of protest. In this case, this is solely because the cars are likely insured, since moving them into the garage were calculated risks. Smash a window and you basically sold the car for them. It should be noted that any insurance claims made toward vandalism occurring after Napleton Infiniti was asked to evacuate the lot should be considered fraudulent, but it likely won’t pan out this way. The media can form a lasting impression, and cause a lot more damage than keyed-but-insured vehicles.

FSU has lost its integrity and the trust of many students and alumni through their response to this emergency. Nothing will change, however, unless people recognize what might have happened and start asking questions about it.

Florida State University