The US News & World Report released its National University Rankings this week, and Binghamton University dropped from No. 89 to No. 97. Perhaps it’s trivial. Maybe it shouldn’t matter all that much. But for a school that dubs itself “the premier public university in the northeast,” this development comes as a step in the wrong direction.
BU Director of Media and Public Relations Ryan Yarosh and Provost Donald Nieman said they didn’t pay much thought to the drop. Yarosh said that the reputation-based element of the ranking has hampered Binghamton in the past, while Nieman added that people unfamiliar with the University are asked to evaluate its reputation.
Maybe the ranking has its flaws. A fool-proof method of determining a school’s worth really isn’t possible, and Nieman poses a fair argument.
But these rankings can’t possibly be as unimportant as their tones suggest. The admissions page on the BU website, meant to attract prospective students, has an entire page dubbed “Accolades,” on which rankings the University has received from a variety of different media outlets are listed. If the ratings systems are so arbitrary that an eight-spot drop isn’t even worth concern from the administration, why bother advertising the ranks at all?
President Harvey Stenger has set lofty goals for the University. Last year, he unveiled and began to implement the “Road Map for Success,” which details specific policy and infrastructure goals in order to secure Binghamton’s reputation as the “premier public university in the northeast.” Ultimately, as the word “premier” would suggest, the hope is to top the charts.
And now we’re eight spots further from that goal.
Our thoughts? Pick a stance. Either these ratings systems are trivial and arbitrary, and the students who go here should value the quality of their education regardless of what spot it holds in a magazine, or the high praises Binghamton receives from third parties are a testament to our climbing place in the world. If our philosophy is the latter, we can’t abandon it whenever the numbers don’t go in our favor.
Ultimately, we think you would be hard pressed to find a student on campus who noticed a significant decline in the quality of their education from last year to this year. But the fact of the matter is, someone did notice. And while there are inherent problems with forcing different schools to compete for top spots on lists, as an up and coming public school, the only direction we should be moving is up.