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Three cheers for student government

Jason Coleman | Wednesday, November 11, 2009

 In my time at Notre Dame, I have never felt that I, as a student, had benefited from any of student government’s initiatives, programs or meetings. I like the idea of the readership program, but by the time I got to the dining hall, there were rarely any copies left. (I’m not a breakfast guy). The retreats are nice, but not my thing. As far as I can tell, there was never a printer in my section of the dorm (and possibly not anywhere in Zahm). Perhaps this is my own fault. Maybe I didn’t reach out enough, or maybe I’m just a student government cynic and will remain so indefinitely.

However, an article in this newspaper last week started to make me a believer in the good people that dwell upstairs in LaFortune. In response to the outrage from students living and socializing off campus, and the need to keep students from being shot, mugged and assaulted, student government pushed through the Transpo initiative.
For those of you who did not read, or have not heard of this, let me explain. Student government has successfully found the funding (through cuts in student government and with additional help from Student Affairs) to run a Transpo bus route on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. that would cover the largest student neighborhoods. The proposed route, as far as I can tell, will run from the Library, past the Twyckenham apartments (Clover Ridge, Turtle Creek, Irish Crossings and Irish Row) to the ‘Backer, down past Eddy St. Commons to Notre Dame Ave. It will run South down Notre Dame Ave. past Club 23 to LaSalle, then take a right passing Corby’s moving onto Finny’s and Fever, then to the South Station. This route would leave approximately every 18 minutes from the Library, and be free to the students.
This is good. This is great. This is going to destroy any chance of me paying $3 for a cab again. This is also a great way to eliminate the need for students to choose between risking a free walk home or an expensive and short cab ride. However, with this great new power, as Peter Parker would say, comes great responsibility.
Student Affairs was concerned, and probably rightly so, that this bus would encourage drinking and cause neighborhood disturbances by posting large groups of students along the side of the street waiting for buses long after midnight. There were also concerns about the true number of students that would take advantage of this new route. If any of these come to pass, then Student Affairs could easily pull the plug on the experiment, without ever looking back. To avoid this, we, as students, need to be careful in each of these regards. So let me propose a few rules.
One: No puking on the bus. This seems obvious, uncontroversial and socially decent. However, I have no problem imagining a few students, overjoyed at their new ride home, overindulge and proceed to ruin the fun for everybody. This would also vindicate Student Affairs of its concerns that this encourages more drinking.
Second, stand at the bus stops. Don’t mull around in neighbor’s yards, on the side of Notre Dame Ave. or in the middle of the street. If calls start rolling in of student’s wrecking havoc on “Home for Sale” signs and yelling at each other at two in the morning, things will turn out badly for the bus.
Finally, and most importantly, ride the bus. The easiest way to shut it down is to simply say not enough students take it to justify the cost. As a student body, we have just been given a chance to create a great new tradition (the 7b Route), and shouldn’t mess it up because we don’t want to wait 15 minutes for a bus to come by. Instead, let’s take it en masse and show everybody how great of an idea this is.
So, with some humility, I have to say thank you to student government for working to provide this opportunity for us, and I hope we can help you guys make it work. It’s certainly better than dropping $3 for a two minute cab ride.
Jason Coleman is a senior accounting major. He can be contacted at coleman.70@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.