File this one under people who have way too much time on their hands. University of North Carolina Charlotte student Stephen Coyle, 26, wasn't happy about a couple of on-campus parking tickets, so he decided to get back at the school in a very time-consuming way: by paying his fine entirely in pennies.
It's unclear exactly how many pennies were involved, but it took school employees a whopping three hours and 40 minutes to count them all. News reports say that Coyle got two on-campus parking violations, which added up to a $110 fine to be paid to the university, earlier this summer. However, Coyle wrote on his GoFundMe page -- we'll get to that in a sec -- that he received a higher $140 fine that he paid off with 14,000 pennies.
So was it 11,000 pennies or 14,000 pennies? MTV News has reached out to Coyle for comment and will update this story accordingly. Either way, that's a TON of copper.
Coyle decided to pay off the fine in this unusual way after he found out that not all of the proceeds from traffic violations go to the university itself. Instead, 80% of the funds collected are redistributed back into the North Carolina public school system. The university's website reads:
"According to North Carolina law, the University is only allowed to retain 20% of the money collected from parking citations. The remaining 80% must be remitted to the state to support local public schools (elementary, middle and high schools). The 20% that UNC Charlotte is allowed to keep is earmarked to cover operating costs for parking enforcement."
In other words, when someone double parks and gets a ticket, a local elementary school benefits. That doesn't sound so bad, right? Coyle disagreed and decided to protest by paying his fines in coins.
"I started digging deeper of what the money was used for and 80% is redistributed to other schools instead of keeping it on campus," Coyle told ABC News. "That's what upset me, which led to paying with the pennies."
Coyle cites poor on-campus maintenance, like missing seats and ceiling tiles in lecture halls, and poorly funded student organizations as more deserving recipients of funds collected from on-campus citations. He started that GoFundMe to raise money for the school's Actuarial Science Club, of which he's treasurer.
He wrote on the crowdfunding site, "My biggest question is: if UNCC does not have the proper funding to keep up [its] own campus, why is the money leaving the school? We should reinvest these earnings into our own campus and student body, and not be treated as a revenue stream."
The campaign hasn't exactly been a smash success. So far, only six donors have participated to raise $45 of its $1,000 goal, which would go towards purchasing actuarial study manuals. Coyle has also received criticism on his Facebook page, titled "Let Them Count" in honor of the time it took school employees to count his coins.
As for the school's reaction? They aren't too pleased, judging from their statement to ABC News: "Regarding the student who paid his traffic fines in pennies, our understanding is that he paid in pennies to symbolize his dissatisfaction with a North Carolina constitutional mandate. That mandate requires that most of the money from such fines be remitted to the Office of State Budget Management to support public schools, rather than used on campus. The University appreciates the student’s interest and initiative in learning more about the functioning of government."
Whether any action will come from Coyle's protest is yet to be seen. Let's just hope Coyle never gets angry about paying his tuition.