NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — "We deserve to learn in peace." That was the message from the student group "Hume Fogg for Peaceful Learning" on Tuesday afternoon.
Students from Hume Fogg Academic High School, which is located in downtown Nashville, held a press conference to call for more regulation in Nashville's party bus industry, also known as "transpotainment."
Watch the full press conference in the video player below:
Students and teachers detailed many instances when they say their day has been interrupted due to the noise of the party buses that pass by their classrooms.
Julia Wolf-Dubin, who is the student leader for the group, said Hume Fogg students report hearing noise from the party buses several times a week. In one example, students reported being disrupted while taking the ACT exam.
"There are laws about where brick and mortar bars and honky tonks can be, there are not laws about where these transpotainment vehicles can be. There should be," Wolf-Dubin said. "We want peaceful learning. Not to take away anyone’s livelihoods, not to ban fun. Just for us to be able to learn in peace."
Another student, Nora Tate, said students have been flashed, yelled at and had things thrown at them by people on the vehicles.
"The music they play, the things they are drinking and the language these intoxicated people use is inappropriate to have around a school," Tate said.
Nicole Maynard, who teaches Advanced Placement World History, said her fourth-floor classroom is constantly interrupted by the sound coming from these vehicles.
Maynard said she often logs the number of times her class is interrupted.
"A couple of Fridays ago, the weather was sunny and I started recording at 10:14 in the morning," Maynard said. "Between that time and 2:52 in the afternoon, 38 times I had to stop talking. My students' heads swiveled back to see where the noise was coming from and their focus and concentration was broken. That's totally unfair."
The student group recently launched an Instagram account to share further examples of the disruption from party buses.
Party buses have become the norm in downtown Nashville. However, the industry has come under fire recently as more community members and organizations are calling for regulation. In July, a 22-year-old man fell from a party bus and was run over by the vehicle.
Since then, Metro Councilmember Freddie O'Connell filed a bill that calls for a more comprehensive makeover of the city's oversight of these types of vehicles. It would "seek to bring larger vehicles - party buses, tractors, hot tubs - into regulatory parity with other vehicles - golf carts, pedal carriages - under the jurisdiction of Metro's Transportation Licensing Commission."
The bill also proposes to limit open containers in unenclosed vehicles, as well as licensing or permits to serve alcohol.
Maynard said she supports the bill and hopes to see it passed by Metro Council.
"Our students deserve better than this," she said.
Metro Council has been discussing the bill, which passed on its first reading. It still requires two more votes before it will be enacted.
Following the press conference, organizations supporting regulation released statements in support of the students.
"We’re proud to see students and educators from Hume Fogg speak out against the daily disruption and safety hazards created by entertainment transportation vehicles,” said Tom Turner, President and CEO of the Nashville Downtown Partnership. “Downtown is a neighborhood shared by over 15,000 residents, 78,000 employees, millions of visitors and other stakeholders including students. We shouldn’t let party buses take advantage of one of our country’s most vibrant neighborhoods at the expense of these students and their opportunity to learn."
“We don’t have to sacrifice our kids’ ability to learn for the sake of an out-of-towner’s ability to parade around Nashville’s streets with a drink in both hands,” said Jim Schmitz, a co-organizer for Safe Fun Nashville. “If we don’t pass Council Member O’Connell’s party vehicles legislation, we’re just going to see more and more operators disrupting how people learn, work, and worship downtown. Enough is enough.”
“When our school kids are telling us party vehicles have become too wild, we have a problem,” said Tee Jordan, a co-organizer for Safe Fun Nashville. “Let’s pass the recent party vehicles legislation so that we can find a way to make downtown a place that works for everyone, not just tourists.”