A meeting between the Student Government Association, Security and the Shuttle and Transit Division of Dattco took place on Oct. 23 to discuss what should be done about the continued vandalism of University-provided shuttles.
Present at the meeting were Ron Colavolpe, the Assistant Chief for Parking and Transportation at Quinnipiac, Justin Chasse, the Operations Manager for the Shuttle and Transit Division of Dattco, SGA representative Victoria Backus, and the Director of the Student Center Kerstin Soderlund.
The consensus at the meeting was that the main issue for concern was the safety and health of the students as well as the bus drivers.
“It is my major priority to protect the safety of our students,” said Colavolpe. “These incidents are putting not just one person in jeopardy, but everyone on the bus.”
Chasse said that he can understand students’ frustration at having to wait for the shuttle, but he feels that communication is the key to resolving the acts of vandalism and disrespect for the drivers.
“I think these incidents stem from the anger at sometimes having to wait for a bus to bring them back to campus,” he said. “Although this is not an acceptable excuse, this may be a cause for the recent incidents.”
Recently Dattco was forced to take a Quinnipiac shuttle out of service for five days to repair, clean, and sanitize it after one of the incidents. According to Chasse, the seats alone cost $400 each to replace.
Incidents this semester include students tearing up seats, verbally abusing shuttle drivers, fighting, and even urinating and vomiting on the shuttle.
The incidents are typically occurring on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, in which large numbers of Quinnipiac students are transported to and from clubs in downtown New Haven.
“The shuttle system is a privilege, not a right, and students are abusing and taking advantage of this privilege,” said Colavolpe.
The possibility of having bus monitors present on the shuttles was briefly discussed. All representatives agreed that it should not come down to that, and hoped to be able to resolve the issues without taking that measure.
In the meantime, Chasse will be providing each shuttle driver with a disposable camera so that they can document damaged areas of the bus.
Colavolpe said that a major difficulty in ending the incidents is because it is hard to determine specific students who are committing the crimes.
Both Chasse and Colavolpe said they urge students who witness inappropriate incidents to contact Security immediately to report the occurrence.
“Communication needs to remain wide open between the shuttle drivers and the students, as well as between security and myself,” Chasse said.
On the student side of the issue, both the Student Awareness Committee and Public Relations Committee within SGA are developing a campaign to educate and inform students about riding the shuttle.
Dennis Kisyk, SGA’s Vice President of Student Concerns, said that his committee plans to put together literature with information regarding the shuttle. Ideas ranged from a pocket size card stating the student’s rights and responsibilities, to posting the shuttle schedule on-board the buses as well as in area nightclubs.
“We plan to empower students with information, and educate them that they need to act responsibly and take accountability for their actions,” Kisyk said. “This is an issue of whether students want to be treated like adults or like children.”
The shuttle system was implemented three years ago as a method to prevent drunk driving accidents and to accommodate students without cars on campus.
“The shuttle is a service to protect the safety and the health of the students, not to endanger them by causing distractions to the drivers,” Colavolpe said.