Taxis and designated drivers will soon be the sole means responsible for safely transporting Mercyhurst College’s inebriated students every weekend. The Thursday, Friday and Saturday night EMTA shuttle routes from Mercyhurst to downtown Erie will be canceled starting April 22-24.
The joint decision between Mercyhurst Student Government and the college administration comes after months of problems with inappropriate student behavior on the EMTA shuttles. The “drunk bus,” as it’s known on campus, gives students and community members transportation from Briggs and Lewis Avenues to the bars and nightlife of downtown Erie.
If student behavior improves drastically between April 15-18, MSG has promised to work with the administration to bring the bus back for a trial period. However, if bad behavior again becomes a problem, the administration will not hesitate to cancel bus routes for SpringFest weekend.
MSG President Santina Sgro said, “We’re really disappointed that it had to be taken away, and we really hope that students can prove that we’re capable and worthy of the service.”
Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Development Darcy Kemp said, “It’s totally in the hands of the students now. It is not the wish of the college or student government to take this service away.”
Junior Mike Zinn said, “I don’t see why people can’t act responsibly….Students should behave like adults if they expect to be treated like adults.”
EMTA drivers, security personnel and students have reported unacceptable behavior on the shuttle, including vomiting, drinking alcohol, smoking, refusing to show ID, physical fights and throwing beer at the EMTA driver. Students have also thrown themselves in front of the bus and physically pushed their way into the bus when it was at capacity. EMTA security footage backs up reports of students misbehaving on the bus. Three students have been reported for bad behavior in the last two weeks.
Kemp said, “It takes a really committed person to work on the shuttle. If our EMTA security personnel say it needs to stop, it stops forever. That’s a really hard position to fill.”
Sgro said drunk driving was MSG’s biggest concern about canceling the bus. “I’m hoping that (the stoppage) doesn’t continue much past the weekend so…it doesn’t lead to drunk driving,” Sgro said.
Seventy percent of students responding to The Merciad’s online poll think MSG should keep the bus to keep people from driving drunk.
“I think the reason why they (got the bus) was to prevent…drunk driving, so by taking it away they’re just asking people to drive drunk,” sophomore Courtney O’Brien said. “Also, there’s other stuff going on downtown, like theaters and the comedy club.”
Many students who are under 21 or who treat the shuttle as a privilege feel cheated.
Senior John Bennett said, “I can see why they did it, but for students who might not have been there, it’s not fair.”
Although EMTA has reported problems since the beginning of this school year, according to Kemp the shuttle was not like this last year.
“This year it has progressed and gotten worse as time goes on,” Kemp said.
Kemp hopes that students will self-regulate their behavior on the bus and report misconduct of other students by speaking with her or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mails must include specific details about the time, date, behavior and identity of those misbehaving.
Sgro said, “We all need to remind each other of what good behavior is. It shouldn’t be up to the administration to tell us what good behavior is.”