On Oct. 27, 2021, Off Campus College Transport (OCCT) announced the return of the Late Nite Service, just 12 days after it was suspended due to mask noncompliance and the mistreatment of the bus drivers. I guess you could say I saw this suspension coming.

The weekends are a time for every college student to take the night to spend time with friends, go out to dinner and maybe hit a party or two. Or more … I don’t judge. It is clear to see that the OCCT Late Night Service is a blessing for students who attempt to strategically avoid paying for Ubers or taxis. Being an avid blue bus rider myself, I have noticed individuals or groups who act more than careless on the bus, forgetting or improperly wearing masks, shouting and wrestling around. I am as excited as the next guy to let off steam after a rigorous week of WebAssign and LON-CAPA assignments kicking my butt, but some students have taken it too far. There has been much discussion about behavior on the bus that warranted the suspension, but I would like to talk about the infamous moments before you even get to scan your Binghamton University ID and mount the first step onto the blue bus.

Picture this: you question the beach- or rodeo-themed invite — seriously, there needs to be some new party theme ideas — that was slipped under your door, disclosing a party that is taking place on some Saturday night in Downtown Binghamton. Your friends say, “Hey, why not,” so you throw an outfit together and make the trek to the University Union. The party starts at 11 p.m., so you expect to take the 10:45 p.m. bus, but upon seeing the mob, you know you were mistaken. If you ever wanted to hardcore mosh, skip buying a three-day Rolling Loud Festival pass and just take OCCT before midnight.

The crowds that form to squeeze onto these buses are concerning, especially when a video documenting them gets more than 20,800 views on @binghamtonbarstool on Instagram (2). After that Sept. 14 post, students could expect a few Binghamton’s New York State University Police (UPD) officers to be present to ensure all students file into an orderly line instead of forming a treacherous amoeba. From that point forward, I was expecting the bus riders to behave better, but considering the Late Nite Service’s suspension, I was wrong.

I really feel for the drivers who have to endure long shifts with loud, obnoxious students who don’t conform to mask policies, leave trash and other messes on the bus or even throw things at the employees who are simply trying to do their jobs. We students need to recognize the advantage of a free and extensive transportation system, and we need to be better. But with that being said, canceling the Late Nite Service was not the solution to these problems.

Firstly, by closing the buses early, more students were inclined to jump on the last bus to Downtown Binghamton on routes other than the Downtown Express, which grew the mob of students outside the University Union and made the whole situation more stressful. Also, cutting off students’ transportation back to campus can lead to a greater amount of driving under the influence. The students who do have access to a car on campus will be more likely to use it if the safer alternative is no longer offered. Additionally, canceling these buses decreases the number of shifts available for Late Nite Service drivers, which can affect their pay. One way we can keep the Late Nite Service running safely would be to not only have a driver on board, but to have a monitor to ensure the driver’s undivided attention can remain on the road. A monitor could also reprimand the students who do not wear their masks properly or who disrespect the OCCT code of conduct. This way, the University can also find the exact students who are causing trouble instead of punishing the student body as a whole.

Now, this brings up another important issue — why do college students need a bus monitor in the first place? Just act like adults! This was close to verbatim what a Binghamton’s New York State University Police (UPD) officer told me the night of Saturday, Oct. 23. My nine friends and I headed to the bus stop at 10:50 p.m. for the 11:00 p.m. bus to Downtown Binghamton. We were pretty far back in the line that formed between the metal barricades, so we didn’t end up catching that first bus, and waited for the 11:15 p.m. bus. We were the second group in line this time, and we were confident that we would have seats. During that wait period, the line only got longer and began to form a C-shape outside of the University Union. Soon, the end of the line was near the front, and upon seeing the blue bus pull in, chaos ensued. Instead of standing in an orderly line, laughing and chatting with my friends, I quickly became lost in a big crowd.

I stand at a strong 5 feet, 10 inches tall, so I could see little clusters of my friends all around. One of my friends became sandwiched between two people and I slowly saw pain come to her face and fear in her eyes. She couldn’t breathe and was having a panic attack. Her roommate and I tried making my way toward her, but as we tried to squeeze through the crowd to rescue my friend, the people around us grew more frustrated. Eventually some guy threw a punch, landing in the back of her roommate’s head. Then I saw UPD.

I am one to speak my mind. In a concerned tone, I explained how I believe UPD should get to the premises sooner. The officer’s response was that his shift had just started. Now, I can understand where the officer may have been confused by my statement, but the excuse bothered me. You see, I wasn’t speaking directly to that officer — I was talking about the department in general. They know the aggression that builds while in line from OCCT — aggression that can even lead to a punch to the back of the head, which is a move so dangerous it is considered illegal in mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship rules. They have likely seen the viral Instagram video displaying chaos getting onto OCCT buses and still chose to ignore it.

It bothered me further when the same officer implied that everyone at the scene, including myself, wasn’t acting like an adult. I was. I was standing in line, waiting for my turn, like an adult. And maybe if UPD had been present sooner, they could have extracted the students who were not.

BU students were acting unruly and violent. UPD was acting unbothered. My biggest concern right now is that the return of the Late Nite Services brings better behavior of BU students and more attention from UPD. It is great that OCCT bus drivers can have more shifts now, and that the possibility of driving while intoxicated has decreased. However, if students don’t change their behavior this time and there are repeat offenses, the Late Nite Service could be canceled permanently.

Remember, BU students: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Be better.

Carol Dineen is a freshman majoring in chemistry.