KNIGHT LIAR: Norwin student leads revolutionary campaign for free parking

Senior Joe Fitzgerald was forever a victim of Norwin School District’s strict parking laws, but now, he’s trying to make a change.

Watch Joe’s press conference here:

Oliver Hinson, President - Editor-in-chief

In the 1960s, thousands of students marched through the Deep South, fighting for civil rights. In 2018, Greta Thunberg led climate strikes all over the world, inspiring global leaders to make big changes.

Now, in 2023, an even bigger revolution is starting at Norwin High School, and it’s all thanks to senior Joe Fitzgerald, one of “the most influential youths of our generation” as described by the New York Times.

Fitzgerald is the leader of the “Free Parking for All” movement, a radical social campaign to strike down Norwin High School’s numbered parking system. Under the district’s current rules, only 239 spots are accessible to students — all of whom must apply through a lengthy process and pay upwards of $40 dollars for a spot. 

Fitzgerald aims to remove all rules for parking at the school, resulting in a system of “parking equality.”

“I just want to change the game,” Fitzgerald said. “I think it’s messed up how some students can get parking and some can’t. We’re all equal, and I think it’s time everyone realized that.”

Fitzgerald started campaigning after his numerous attempts to find free parking on campus were foiled. He attempted to park in the faculty parking lots, in the band parking lot, on nearby McMahon Road, and even on the high school track.

“Honestly, at some point, I was going to start parking on the roof,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald was apprehended several times for his parking violations, causing many to label him “the new Rosa Parks.” However, he does not seem to be hung up on the ways of the social movements of the past; when asked what he thought of social disobedience, he was unfamiliar with the term — in fact, he thought it was the name of a new rap song, citing, “I only really listen to reggae and soul music, so I don’t know much of this new stuff.”

His movement for free parking started slowly, gaining a few supporters every day, but it took off after his speech at the March 13 school board meeting, which he titled “I Have Been Dreaming.”

“I have a dream,” Fitzgerald said, “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal — in terms of parking.” Fitzgerald assured the crowd that his speech was not plagiarized in any way.

The appearance attracted dozens of new supporters to Fitzgerald’s cause, many of whom had also been victims of the school’s strict parking rules at one point or another.

“I think Joe is speaking for all of us,” a student said (the student chose to remain anonymous to avoid being punished by, as he called it, “the Machine”).

Of course, some have found issues with his movement, notably members of the administration at Norwin High School.

“I don’t think he realizes what the term ‘limited space’ means,” an assistant principal from the school said. “There are around 1700 kids in this school, nearly half of whom can drive. Whenever I asked him how he planned to accommodate all those cars, he just said, ‘Ball is life,’ and walked off.”

Fitzgerald responded to many of these concerns in a recent press conference where he outlined his proposed solutions to the “parking problem,” some of which included:

  • the construction of a multi-tiered parking garage in the high school parking lot;
  • making the band parking lot a permanent student lot and forcing the band to practice in the basement;
  • turning the teachers’ lot into a student parking lot;
  • finally, opening up parking on the roof.

However, he also presented some ideas for reducing the need for parking in the first place, notably a public transportation service which picks students up at their houses (or a nearby place) and delivers them to the school and back.

“That sounds like the greatest idea I’ve ever heard,” senior Isaiah Kline said when he heard about the proposal. “It’s revolutionary. What if we didn’t even have to drive to school at all?”

Fitzgerald plans to speak again at the next board meeting on Monday, April 3. He hopes to not only attract more students to the cause, but also parents and teachers, who could play a vital role in deciding the fate of Fitzgerald’s campaign.

“At the end of the day, there’s gonna have to be a lot of movers and shakers in order to get this thing done,” Fitzgerald said. “But that’s what it takes to move the needle — and I’m in for the long haul.”