Just days before Raisin Weekend was set to commence, residents of David Russell Apartments and Fife Park received a “confusing” email warning that the hall’s night bus stop was on the verge of cancellation. Sent the afternoon of Tuesday 11 October, the full email reads, “This is the final warning that the DRA/FP Night Bus will be cancelled as a stop unless the unacceptable behaviour on the bus and when waiting for/or leaving the bus can stop.”
“Please, respect the neighbours, keep the noise to a minimum and respect the drivers or this service will cease.”
“Final warning people.”
Speaking with residents of DRA and Fife Park, The Saint discovered confusion surrounding the circumstances of the email. The majority of DRA/FP residents and night bus regulars that were interviewed have never experienced, nor heard of, the behaviour discussed in the warning message.
Kirsten Scott, a first-year living in DRA, said she takes the night bus frequently and had never received a warning prior to the “final” one from the email.
“I was quite confused when the email came out.”
A first-year PhD student, who wished not to be named, responded to the email asking for more information on the problems but did not receive a helpful response.
He said of the exchange, “The person who sent the email seemed very angry.”
In response to an inquiry from The Saint about the specific problems, the University issued a statement saying, “There have been a number of complaints about the behaviour of students on and at the Night bus stop at DRA. It is imperative that the Night bus provides a safe environment for students travelling back after dark; we also expect our students to behave in a way that does not alarm the driver or nearby residents. Students have been advised accordingly.”
The Saint rode the bus and spoke with the regular drivers, Tim and Derek, in order to ascertain more information.
Both Tim and Derek have driven the night bus since it was first piloted by the University in May of 2014. The route, which was created after a series of sexual assault incidents to assist students who are forced to walk long distances in the dark, runs from 10 pm until 2 am and includes stops at the Union, Library, Albany Park, and Agnes Blackadder Hall.
However, DRA and Fife Park residents may be denied this safety measure if they cannot abide with what has been asked for in the email.
However, according to Tim, noise and respect are not the actual problems. After driving the route for several years, he has never experienced disrespect from students. The actual issue lies in the crowds of, often intoxicated, people that attempt to board the bus at the DRA stop, which is located at the front of the complex’s facilities building. On the busiest nights, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, groups of more than 60 can be seen waiting for the bus between 10 pm and 12 am. This creates a problem, as the bus can only seat 41 people.
“It’s a case of trying to squeeze in what you can.”
On the Friday that The Saint was on board, a throng of about 65 party-goers heading to town did indeed rush the bus door as the bus pulled up to DRA at 11:15 pm. A janitor from DRA, who acts as makeshift security in order to assist Tim and Derek with crowd control on hectic nights, shouted at the students to back up and form a line. Tim had to keep the door to the bus closed while the janitor wrestled to restrain the crowd. Finally, once some calm had fallen over the mass of people, Tim and the janitor began to allow people on board.
Mostly women were chosen because, as Tim reminded throughout the night, the bus is “not a booze bus” and is “primarily for safety”. After the bus had been filled to capacity, about two dozen people were left behind to walk to town. Tim explained that University security sometimes has to be called to help deal with especially unruly individuals, but it is a rare occurrence.
Security officers will also periodically ride on the bus, but “they’re never there when the problem is at DRA.”
Derek added that, while the mobs of people are problematic, cancelling the DRA bus stop is not the proper solution to the problem. In fact, both Tim and Derek agree that the behaviour this year has been far better than in previous years. To the best of their knowledge, there has been no serious talk of cancelling the bus during these times.
At the time of publication, no further updates have been provided to students by either the DRA/FP wardennial team or the University.