Fritz Fombon, information systems freshman, said that going on party buses on the weekend is a great way to meet new people and hang out with friends from campus. He typically goes to the club Plush in Dallas on Thursdays for Premiere College Night, which Dallas Knight Life hosts every week by sending buses to campus to pick up students.
“People dance on the bus to get themselves ready to go to the club,” Fritz said. “It’s really good to use because people don’t have to worry about driving themselves back and forth from the club at night.”
The UTA Police Department has seen a rising trend of party buses being used by students who live on campus, with seven reported incidents involving students linked to party bus use this semester. Multiple offences occur for each incident, including minor in consumption, public intoxication and two DWIs.
This is an increase from only three reported incidents from June 1 to December 31, according to files gathered by UTA police captain Jay Tillerson.
Assistant UTA police chief Rick Gomez said that the only problems they have had with party buses are the ones not affiliated with or chartered through an organization on campus. He also said that the police department is alright with students using the buses to have fun – as long as it is done the right way.
“The problem with these buses is when no one takes responsibility to make sure everyone drinks safely,” Gomez said. “Then it promotes overconsumption of alcohol, and that’s when it becomes — you could say — a community nuisance, as well as a health risk.”
This is one of the reasons party buses are not allowed to drop off or pick students up on campus, Gomez said. Gomez said that he does not want it to look like party bus events hosted by outside organizations are sponsored by UTA, because of the incidents that can occur when students use them.
Tillerson said that students should be aware of the consequences involved if they are caught for public intoxication or DWI, including loss of license, an automatic 72 hours in jail and possible required counseling.
Fombon said that he has not seen any incidents personally when he has gone out on a party bus. He also said that most of the drinking he has seen has been at the clubs and not actually on the bus, since there are underage students mixed in with students older than 21.
“If you get caught drinking underage, you run the risk of getting kicked off the bus, which is really bad if you don’t have a ride back,” Fombon said. “Most underage students I have seen don’t do it for that reason.”
Andrew Nguyen, social chair for Phi Delta Theta fraternity, said that his organization has just started using coach buses when they go out to mixers and social events because they have the funds for it this semester. He said that Fraternity and Sorority Life uses coach buses instead of party buses because of price, safety and a better atmosphere.
“It’s similar to party buses, I mean, they play music and everyone gets amped, but it doesn’t promote excessive or underage drinking, which is part of my job to keep everyone safe,” Nguyen said. “I don’t want to deal with people throwing up on the buses, or driving home drunk.”
Nguyen said that one of the positives of using buses is the sense of community people feel when they are all on the same bus.
“If you go to a bar, people you hang out with come in waves, but if you all go as one group, you have that fun, social party atmosphere from the moment you leave to the moment you get back,” Nguyen said.
Navjot Singh, new member educator for Alpha Tau Omega and Mr. UTA, said that students and Fraternity and Sorority Life organizations should be using coach buses more often when they go out. He also said it is honestly safer and more fun than having to figure out rides when you go out at night.
Singh is also affiliated with Texas Ragers, a party promotion group started by two of his friends at Tarrant County College. He said that at the start of the semester, the group used party buses when they took students out, but stopped because of safety concerns.
“It just didn’t feel like a good environment when we used the buses, so Texas Ragers is more focused on finding unique venues and our own recording artists for entertainment, rather than relying on clubs or party buses,” Singh said.
Fombon said he feels pretty safe when using Dallas Knight Life buses, because UTA police are often at the places where students are dropped off, which is typically near the parking lots near College Park Center, to make sure people get home safely.
Fombon said although he is fine going out by himself to meet new people, it’s always better for security purposes if a friend tags along to use party buses.
“Say, for instance, you get into an argument with someone at the club, or something happens and you get thrown out,” Fombon said. “You don’t want to be sitting on a curb in the middle of Dallas by yourself. It’s just smarter to have a friend with you.”