By Sierra Lammi – [email protected]
Recently, a team of SJU student leaders met in an attempt to improve student behavior on the Link. Johnnie representatives from ROTC, Residential Life, St. John’s Senate, Men’s Development Institute and student athletes came together with Vice President of Student Development Fr. Doug Mullin to discuss ways to discourage inappropriate activities on the Link.
These meetings are not directly in response to the video clip posted a few weeks ago, but senior RA and Residential Life delegate Daniel Zoltek describes the video as the “tipping point” to a well-established problem with student behavior on the bus.
“The focus of these meetings is addressing the uncivil behavior on the bus which includes singing, swearing, vomiting and chanting,” Zoltek said.
“These meetings are not about the video or non-inclusivity or discrimination, they are more about just being respectful and making sure that the bus is safe,” Mullin said. “It’s about safety and respect, but those other discussions are important too, and hopefully feeling respected and safe on the bus with help with those discussions.”
According to security officers and bus drivers, over the past four years student behavior on the Link has gotten worse, particularly on the weekends when many students have been drinking.
One solution SJU representatives are currently discussing is an update to the Link policy that enforces harsher punishments to students who exhibit inappropriate behaviors. This proposed policy would be more in line with public metro policies in Minneapolis.
“We don’t want to discourage students from taking the bus when they are drunk, but we do want people to realize that it really is a privilege, and we don’t want people to abuse that,” Zoltek said.
Students representatives to these meetings are also working to put together a statement about this issue, as well as bring in new ideas about possible solutions from other students.
One other solution Mullin suggested was the use of student monitors on the buses to try and hold fellow students accountable. However, after much discussion and a trial run, the idea may not take effect.
“Dealing with people under the influence can be difficult because they can’t reason, and putting other students in positions of authority to hold other students accountable didn’t seem reasonable,” Zoltek said.
A trial run took place last Friday where student monitors were placed on the Link, but those students did not experience any inappropriate behavior.
Mullin was the one who initially sent out emails inviting different SJU groups to the meetings, but the meetings themselves have been largely student-led. Administration has been there to support the students during meetings as well as provide helpful facts. But, most of the ideas and decisions come from students.
“We want this to be a solution by Johnnies for Johnnies,” Mullin said, “We also want to emphasize the severity with which the situation is being handled.”
So far, CSB organizations have not taken part in these meetings largely because these inappropriate behaviors have come primarily from St. John’s students. Student delegates to these meetings recognize that issue.
“We want to go over how we can hold Johnnies accountable, since it has been mainly SJU students causing issues, and so we got SJU leaders together,” Zoltek said.
Student representatives and faculty are still holding meetings to discuss possible solutions. However, student delegates hope to have the opportunity to hear ideas from other students at CSB/SJU.