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Party bus over here, not over there

As you ride the school bus home, you’re eating your daily afternoon snack when the bus driver reprimands you for breaking a no-eating rule you didn’t know existed.  Meanwhile, your friend on a different bus eats her snack, rides without a seat belt, and loudly rants to her friend without facing her bus driver’s scorn.

Tumbleweed recently began to encourage all of its bus drivers to strictly enforce the official bus rules for safety reasons. These rules have been in place for the past 14 years, but the leniency or strictness of their implementation varies with each bus driver.

In order to create a fair system while keeping students safe, rules that directly affect our safety, such as wearing seat belts and remaining seated, should be consistently and clearly enforced on all buses, while rules such as those that prohibit cell phone use and eating should be either completely discarded or left to the bus driver’s discretion.

All bus drivers have been urged to enforce these stringent safety measures, but only some have chosen to be especially harsh with enforcement of the rules. For example, one UV staffer who regularly rides a school bus tried to take a different bus route one day after school to go to her friend’s house, but the driver initially refused to transport her because she hadn’t purchased a $5 one-way bus pass from the student store, which was closed at the time. On this staffer’s usual bus, and on most buses last school year, the temporary bus pass requirement applied only to students who were not signed up to ride any bus.  After desperate begging and pleading, the staffer ultimately convinced the driver to let her ride the bus. This kind of inconsistency in rule enforcement frustrates and confuses many girls.

Some of the pre-existing rules are easy to follow and potentially life-saving. After all, taking just a few seconds to fasten your seat belt could save your life. But some rules are rarely followed because they seem downright unreasonable, and repercussions for violators have never been more severe than demerit slips.  The Student Handbook states that if a student breaks a rule on the bus, she will receive a warning.  However, the Handbook says that “subsequent violations may result in suspension of bus privileges and/or suspension from the School.”  Marlborough bus riders use cell phones on the buses on a daily basis in violation of the official rules, but Auxiliary Services Manager Clinton Oie said that he has never seen a student face these severe punishments for bus rule infringement in the 14 years he’s worked at the School.

We encourage the administration to adjust these longstanding rules in favor of rules that are practical, easy to understand and easy to uniformly enforce.