By Patricia Gordon (2013)
As Mount Royal University students begin their university studies in September, I would hope one of the discourses presented at their new student orientation is a refresher on the importance of having manners, which some students seem to have all but forgotten these days. One only has to take a bus ride to work to understand what I mean!
I used to loath taking the number 20 Heritage bus leaving Brentwood station at 7:03 am during the fall and winter university semesters. On this bus, it became a daily ritual for some students on the bus to claim a seat for themselves and one for their backpack (or feet), while older adults, including the elderly and a mother with her toddler, were forced to stand squished in the front or middle aisle of the bus. In the good old days when we had a polite society, young people graciously offered their seat to the elderly, pregnant women, adults with children, the disabled, and mature adults. These days, too many students prefer to ignore those who need - and paid for a seat – as they bond with their iPad or smartphone.
Occasionally, I’ve heard a new passenger asking a student occupying a whole seat with their butt and backpack if they mind if they sit down. But, why should the seated student mind if the standing passenger sits next to him or her, after all the seating student didn’t pay two transit fares to occupy the whole bus seat? The new passenger’s request for a seat was often grudgingly granted without an apology. If my Grandmother were alive today she would scold in her unforgiving tone, “mind your manners” to the offending culprit. What these students seem to have forgotten is that not only is their behavior disrespectful, but the cost of their university U-Pass is subsidized by municipal taxpayers, thus university students are not even paying the full fare of one portion of the seat.
Perhaps one way to deal with habitual seat hoarders is to have Calgary Transit Peace Officers periodically board the buses, and for those students observed hoarding two seats while others are standing, then the offenders ought to have their U-Pass privileges revoked for the semester, which could be done by granting transit officers the authority to remove the student’s U-Pass validation sticker. Of course, we should not have to live in a society that has to impose penalties to change people’s rude behavior. So MRU students, please take a moment and mind your manners when riding the city transit, and if someone needs a seat then do the right thing. Remember, one day in your later years, you, too will need a polite young person to offer you a seat.