They keep rolling on in. Less than three weeks after President Barack Obama’s visit, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to campus this week.
On Tuesday morning, Gov. Cuomo spoke at the brand-new Innovative Technologies Complex about the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, a federally funded initiative to aid communities that suffered serious damage in the super storms of the last few years.
The Broome Communities Steering Committee is our region’s collective group, intent on reaping the greatest possible benefits from the broader New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program. The 18-member board, including Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger, who co-chairs the council, met with the governor on Tuesday at the ITC and marked BCSC’s formation.
The program’s aims are twofold. Funding will go to repairing damage from the flooding and storms. At the same time, communities are meant to implement protocols and preparations that will lessen the damage the next time a Sandy rolls around.
The most relevant of the storms in our region was Tropical Storm Lee. Those of us who are juniors or seniors remember the damage wrought that second week of the semester in September 2011 when the Events Center transformed into a refugee center.
Our campus community rose to the moment, offering medical and psychological aid, temporary housing, food and more to those affected by flooding. All because we were fortunate enough not to be subject to the flood’s undiscerning ravaging power. Our campus, with the exception of electrical wiring in the University Downtown Center, remained dry and unaffected. All of these factors make the governor’s visit here quite an enigma.
A meeting on campus may have been convenient given President Stenger’s presence both on the committee and at the University. But since the governor was here to talk about aid, we feel he should have appeared Downtown, where Lee flooded streets and destroyed homes. On campus, nearly a week of canceled class was the only signal that made dorm-livers aware of Lee’s destruction.
By speaking at the University instead of Downtown, the governor’s appearance sent a message of disconnect between BU and the Greater Broome County area.
Was the governor’s visit, perhaps in some small way, an insensitive gesture to Broome County? After all, why not go to the sites to which the funding would be directed?
In this issue, we cover two important ways in which Binghamton students get off campus and into the community in order to create local ties and improve the relationship between students and the city. We also feature a recent alumnus who stayed in Binghamton to work with local politicians and a new concert series that brings student bands to Downtown venues. Projects like these strengthen ties between the campus and community. We hope to see more of them, for the benefit of everyone involved.