GWU Drinkers Who Muss the Bus May Be Asked to Pick Up the Tab

By Susan Kinzie
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

College students have a lot to worry about these days. At George Washington University, they pick up a copy of the student newspaper and find they can't even throw up in peace.

There it was in the GW Hatchet: "Fines Imposed for Vomiting on Vern Express." Students who drink until they are sick could be charged $200 to $300 or more to clean up the bus, which runs round-the-clock between the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses, and to pay for cab vouchers for all of the student riders who are trying to get home.

And "mystery riders" could be on board at any time, the administration warned. (Watch your back.)

Senior Emily Merleaux considered the policy for a moment. "I think that's insane," she said.

Supriya Shah, a freshman from Pennsylvania, said: "To just target the Vern seems random. People throw up all the time in the dorms, they throw up in the elevator, they throw up everywhere."

And there it is, one of the universal truths of college life: Sometimes people drink too much.

But what can be hosed down and forgotten elsewhere is trickier on the shuttle. For one thing, the driver has to stop the bus, unload the passengers and arrange rides home. Most late nights, only one bus is in service, according to an e-mail response from Robert S. Snyder, an administrator on the Mount Vernon campus.

And because the seats are upholstered, they absorb the mess, spokeswoman Adela de la Torre said delicately.

School officials aren't the only ones who are sick of the problem. The policy followed an increase in the number of incidents, and de la Torre said students were complaining about delays on the bus.

There's a Facebook group: "I Hate When People Puke on the Vern Express." Its logo is a bent-over stick figure, with dotted lines coming out of the mouth, inside a red circle with a slash through it.

Its members weighed in with comments including: "We had another puker last night. This sorry drunk took The Vern Express out of service for almost two hours. Terrible."

But there's also a group writing to honor a student who became known for hurling so often. Its mission: "Whether you were puked on . . . had to wait for the Vern Express to be cleaned because of [her] vomit, or are just merely amused by the story, you belong in this group."

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