Growing up with a British mother, manners were a must. Good posture, minding my P’s and Q’s and demonstrating the utmost respect for adults weren’t suggestions so much as they were requirements. This emphasis on politeness has left me with, in addition to impeccable table manners, a heightened awareness for etiquette, especially in situations where it is lacking.
Which brings me to you. Yes, you: the person on the bus who is having an embarrassingly public conversation with your buddy, who happens to be sitting six rows behind you. Here I am, stuck in the middle of your gabfest, forced to hear about the sophomoric exploits that occurred in the A-quad of College Eight last night, wondering to myself, “Where are your manners?”
Now, I am aware that I may sound a tad bitter, maybe a bit of a curmudgeon. But trust me, just as my mother used to say: This is for your own good.
During this first week of school, when excitement is high and enthusiasm for the new school year is palpable, we could all use a little refresher on campus etiquette, especially those of us that are, well, freshmen.
Let’s start with the bus. Now that you know to keep your conversations — cell phones included — to a respectably low decibel, consider this: If you are a first- or second-year student living on campus, know that most students who use the Metro buses are using them to get home at the end of the day, not to rush to the dining hall after class.
When 5 p.m. hits, and the bus stops are packed with tired and hungry students, please don’t board a city bus just to travel a few stops. Instead, wait for a campus bus and allow the Metro buses to fill up with students who need them to get home. This is especially true of bus routes that run relatively infrequently, such as the 20 Westside or the 10 King Street routes. An even better option is to take the initiative to learn the network of footpaths that serve as a far more efficient way to get around campus.
Here at UCSC, we’re a pretty fit bunch. That is largely because many students bike to and around campus to get around. That’s where you come in — usually stepping in front of a fast-moving road bike you don’t hear coming. As a pedestrian, please avoid walking in designated bike paths. When you’re walking on a path that’s for both bikers and walkers, try not to block the entire path with you and all your floor mates.
If you must walk in a group and you hear an approaching biker call out, “On your left,” that does not mean you should move to the left. It means you should allow room for the biker to pass you on your left-hand side. Follow this little rule, and bikers everywhere will rejoice.
Now let’s talk about the reason you presumably came to college: going to class. We all love the large lecture halls that allow us to do the things we could never get away with in high school, like eating, texting and updating our Facebook status during lecture.
However, eating an apple or trail mix is one thing, but choosing to unwrap your pungent chicken barbecue ranch sandwich while I’m trying to take notes next to you is downright inconsiderate. Please refrain from such indulgent endeavors.
It may seem simple enough, but just arriving to class can often lead to missteps in manners. If you must enter late — we’ve all done it — try not to distract the entire lecture hall by grabbing a seat next to your friend in the middle of the row. Sit in the nearest open seat or on the aisle, and nobody will even notice you were late.
This brings me to my last piece of decorum. I understand that some lectures may be boring, and that your budding love interest just posted a new album on Facebook, or that you must see what Kanye West just posted on Twitter. But honestly, sitting behind you and having to watch you spend the entire lecture playing Tetris on your laptop and talk to your friend about “Glee” is a disservice to those sitting around you who might actually be trying to pay attention. Or don’t want “Glee” spoilers.
For those who are new to the college experience, the positive and energizing atmosphere can feel especially liberating. So enjoy college and the freedom that it brings. But remember, just because your mom isn’t around anymore doesn’t mean you should abandon everything she taught you.
This concludes the etiquette lesson for the year. Third- and fourth-years everywhere can breathe easier knowing these codes of conduct. And now, as my mother taught me to say: Thank you for listening.