Led by Newing College Faculty Master Mark Reisinger, five professors in fields ranging from engineering to history challenged Binghamton University students to outwit them at math, science, history and Binghamton knowledge Thursday night in the Newing Multipurpose rooms.
“Are you smarter than a professor?” asked host Anthony Galli, a senior majoring in political science. “There are only two answers: ‘No’ or ‘Maybe.’ Because let’s be honest, you’re probably not.”
With that, the challenge was on. One by one, students came up to the stage to try and beat Newing Faculty Fellows Surinder Kahai, John Chaffee, Shannon Hilliker, Gary Truce and Master Reisinger.
One by one, most of the challengers returned to their seats empty-handed.
For students like Alim Uddin, a junior majoring in economics and Arabic, the contest seemed easy.
“My name means all-knowing,” Uddin said to the host. “No, it really does.”
But after learning he was incorrect in believing that fractions were integers, Uddin returned to his seat in silence.
“When I got up there, I didn’t do too well. We were falling behind, so yeah, I was pretty nervous,” Uddin said after the event.
The onslaught seemed to be endless, drawing students to sigh, guess and even surrender.
“In what war was ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ written?” Galli asked.
No student could answer.
“How many square yards are there in the Nature Preserve?” Galli asked.
No student came close.
“Who invented the first practical safety elevator with brakes?” Galli asked Jacob Seidner, a junior majoring in industrial and systems engineering.
But Sneider knew when he was beat.
“I have no idea, but if any of my teammates do, please take my place,” he said as he walked to his seat.
Nearing the end, the team of nearly 30 students was still six points behind the professors and seemed poised for defeat. But then, the five-player team rounds began.
“What party was John Adams a part of?” Galli asked.
The professors were stumped.
“What is the Newing mascot?” Galli asked.
No professors knew the answer.
With five students against five professors, the tenured doctors got a taste of their own medicine, and the teams found themselves in a tie with one question to go.
“I wasn’t worried,” said Jonathan Rodriguez, an undeclared sophomore. “I knew we could rack up some history questions and get right back in it.”
Many students and faculty seemed happier to be interacting than winning.
“I had a lot of fun and I think the students did too,” Reisinger said. “It’s important for them to see us as human, we’re not perfect, and they saw us get questions wrong too. It’s great to just have faculty and students together.”
Students also had the opportunity to ask professors questions about their personal lives, such as what they would have done differently when they were students and what other fields they might have chosen.
“It’s really cool that faculty could be resting and being with their family but they want to come see us. I really appreciate that,” Rodriguez said. “They were really honest when we talked to them after the event.”
But before either team could relax, it came down to one last round.
“And for the win,” said host Galli, “factoring inflation, who was the richest man in world history?”
When Galli received the answers it only took him a moment to register the score.
“John D. Rockefeller,” he said as he looked up. “The students win.”
For the first, and only, time in Binghamton University history, the students were smarter than their professors.