As protests go, Stephen Coyle’s stunt was pretty effective.
Incensed by a parking fine, the student at North Carolina-Charlotte university, decided he would hand over the $110 (NZ$163) fine in pennies – 11,000 of them.
Rather appropriately Coyle, 26, is the vice president of the university’s mathematics club.
His ire was not provoked by the fine itself, but how the money was being used.
Coyle’s research revealed the campus only kept 20 per cent of the money, with the rest being used to fund schools elsewhere.
“Why are college students — who are arguably one of the most fiscally challenged group of people — supplementing the funding of public schools when this is actually the responsibility of taxpayers?” he said.
He had to visit several banks to get the coins needed to pay the fine.
Having assembled boxes of small change, he dumped the pennies in baskets and delivered the fine in person, contained in three separate buckets.
It took two members of staff three hours and 40 minutes to count the cash.
“I apologised immediately when I gave them the change, saying it was a part of the protest I was doing,” Coyle said. “They were fine with it. The only person that seemed pretty upset was their manager.”
His gesture drew what can only be described as an understated, slightly sarcastic, response from the college.
“The University appreciates the student’s interest and initiative in learning more about the functioning of government.”