Though I am a proud Stern student, for some reason, I am a member of the “Overheard at Barnard” Facebook group and on a daily basis enjoy reading quotes from Barnard students that are quintessentially Barnard. In my three-plus semesters at Stern, I have often been inspired by the “Overheard at Barnard” group to create a page or group to share the ridiculous quotes I and my peers accidentally hear from Stern students. For multiple reasons, including the fact that the Stern student body is too small to retain anonymity in the group, I have refrained from creating an “Overheard at Stern” group.
The place where most of the “Overheard at Stern”-worthy quotes are heard is quite possibly the intercampus shuttle. Especially on rides where the vans are mostly full, it is almost impossible to not listen in on others’ conversations and hear phrases that are quintessentially Stern. This lack of quiet, though, is not something I am happy about. The fact that eavesdropping is inevitable due to the close proximity of students to each other and the propensity of these students to speak quite loudly, is unfortunate. Many a time, despite that I attempt to drown out the conversations with music, I have heard conversations that I wish I had not.
Firstly, there are the students who use the shuttle as a place to brag about their personal, academic, and professional accomplishments. Perhaps these students do not know of the concept of sensitivity, and therefore deem it acceptable to tell the students two rows in front of them of their incredible job or internship offers, high GPA’s, and great dates. Of course, everyone reserves the right to speak highly of themselves to their friends; the shuttle, though, is not the place for this. Students who perhaps have been unsuccessful in the job hunt, are less academically inclined than their peers, or are sensitive to issues relating to dating, are forced to hear their peers brag about themselves and spend an entire shuttle ride feeling down because other students couldn’t stay quiet for a forty-five minute shuttle ride. Inevitably, students, and people in general, will have to deal with their own issues in the “real world.” As students of a Modern Orthodox institution, we are responsible for upholding values of sensitivity and can therefore profess our accomplishments in places other than the intercampus shuttle.
Second, there are the students who share personal details with their seatmates or on the phone. As I attempt to gaze out the window at the beautiful East River and enjoy the sultry voice of Hozier, my daydreams are periodically interrupted by the student next to me speaking with the student across the aisle about her menstrual cycle. I think I speak for everyone who’s ever ridden an intercampus shuttle when I say that personal details should be disclosed in places where there are not fourteen people, many of whom are at most acquaintances, all within one foot of each other.
And then there’s the music; I personally refrain from taking Thursday night shuttles when I can in order to avoid inebriated Stern students insisting that the shuttle driver turn on the radio and make it louder. Shuttle drivers should of course be able to listen to music to entertain themselves during their shifts, just not at a volume that is disturbing to most of the passengers.
Realistically, as long as there are shuttle rides, there will be shuttle-talkers and shuttle-sharers. But can’t the shuttle just be a place of quiet where students can get from point A to point B in peace?