On Thursday evening, Binghamton University’s Student Association and the Black Student Union held a forum titled “Meet the Student Association” in an effort by BSU to form a stronger bond between the SA and student groups.
Last year, the BSU organized a similar event to discuss the group’s belief that a disconnect existed between the SA and the students. This was in reaction to an incident two years ago, in which members of the democratically elected Financial Council had referred to the BSU as a “shitty welfare group.”
Chanee Cameron, president of the Black Student Union, said she, along with other members of the BSU executive board, said they feel there is a gap between the SA E-Board and the students they are elected to represent.
“I want to continue constant communication between the students and the SA,” Cameron said. “Our biggest goal is to become more involved with what the SA is doing so that we can take advantage of the services that they are willing to provide for us and other groups.”
Cameron felt that the multicultural organizations, along with many other student groups, are largely unaware of who the SA E-Board members are and what each of their roles encompass.
After last year’s SA E-Board remained unscathed by major controversy, many students remain optimistic about the new officials.
More than 50 students attended BSU’s meet-and-greet forum, which took place at 6 p.m. in the Old University Union on Thursday.
All six members of the SA E-Board — President Mark Soriano, Executive Vice President Derek Gumb, Vice President for Finance Eric Larson, Vice President for Academic Affairs Aaron Ricks, Vice President for Programming Brianna Friia, and Vice President for Mulitcultural Affairs Daniel Adeyanju — attended the event.
Each member provided a brief description of his or her role, initiatives he or she is undertaking that will directly benefit BU students, and his or her goals for the school year. In their speeches, the E-Board members emphasized that they will strive to promote a sense of inclusivity and representativeness within the student body.
Adeyanju stressed the need for collaboration and cooperation among all student groups, especially multicultural ones, because it stimulates a sense of pride among students.
“One of my biggest goals is to bring everyone together and that is why my position exists,” Adeyanju said.
He said he will use his position to actively pursue new connections among multicultural groups and produce bigger events.
“My primary goal is to make sure that you as people who are part of the most active groups on campus are aware of your resources,” Adeyanju said.
Aaron Ricks said that this year’s SA E-Board will work hard to represent and cater to the needs of all students. Ricks heads the Student Advocate Program, which acts as a resource and point of contact for students who are facing disciplinary action by the University.
“I love [the Student Advocate program] more than anything,” Ricks said. “We do our best to help students charged with conduct violations.”
All members of the E-Board provided contact information and were adamant about students voicing their questions and opinions to them.
However, Phillip Kanyesigye, a junior majoring in history, expressed concern to the E-Board about their lack of communication with the students. As a student interested in internships and other job opportunities, he suggested that the SA E-Board take a more active approach in communicating internships and job opportunities to students.
“I would like to apply for internships, but I don’t know much about it,” Kanyesigye said. “There are a lot of programs that I would like to do but I’m not sure how to find out information about it.”
Derek Gumb encouraged students to visit the SA website, which includes most of the information they were requesting.
“On SA-Line we provide internship and job opportunities and on PAWS you can search through clubs to join,” Gumb said. “We want to provide students with as much information as possible in order to enrich their college careers.”
Although the “paid services” and “unpaid services” sections of the SA website, which would include the information Kanyesigye requested, have current information, other sections remain severely outdated. The most recent post on the SA homepage is from August, and the discontinued New York Times Program is still listed under the SA services.
Gumb said the website was created last semester, and the E-Board has plans to totally revamp it in the near future. He argued that the website is already fairly well-updated, but acknowledged that the E-Board is not perfect.
“I think this forum helped us realize, specifically with this website, let’s keep it updated, we’re on track to do it, let’s make it faster because it seems like the students, they want it,” Gumb told Pipe Dream. “We actually are really making this a priority.”