Opinion

A year in review from Opinion Editor Michael Snow

Semester's end heralds reflections and renewed goals for Spring 2014

What a year it’s been.

Since becoming the editor of the opinion section, I’ve been consistently impressed — at times overwhelmed — by the honesty and courage with which students have opened themselves up to their peers. In the last few months, we’ve published columns that come from raw places, dealing with depression, eating disorders and weight loss, social struggles and professional and academic anxieties.

These pieces have opened up channels of dialogue on campus about important, at times uncomfortable, issues.

It’s also been fulfilling to see our staff editorials positively contribute to changes on the ground on Binghamton University’s campus. A few notable examples come to mind.

Take Sodexo’s new Meatless Monday initiative, for instance. Though the program has its faults, it’s a step in the right direction. I can’t help but think that our editorial from last April, wherein we petitioned Sodexo to offer greater vegetarian options, played a role in achieving that.

It has also been encouraging, more recently, to see how responsive the Dean of Students Office has been to the lack of study space — particularly near power outlets. The day after we ran an editorial on the subject, the Dean of Students announced the plan to open additional classrooms for extended study periods, as per one of our suggestions.

But 2013 was a mixed year, both for BU and Pipe Dream. A year characterized by dissonance: President Barack Obama and Yellowcard. The opening of New Dickinson, and seemingly indefinite University Union Food Court construction.

Our staff has experienced challenges and growth within our own humble underground basement office — though we prefer to think of it as “subterranean chic” — as well.

Over the past few months, our staff has reexamined the ways in which we relate to our readers. We’ve questioned what it means to be the voice of the student body on campus, and how we can most honorably live up to that role.

To me, a central piece in fulfilling our aspiration to be the voice of the student body involves you, the reader. Interaction is up; that much is clear. More people are commenting, writing in and submitting guest columns and letters to the editor. That’s great. But there’s even more we can accomplish, together.

For spring 2014, I’d like to see even more dialogue. What issues should we be raising, but aren’t? How can we refocus campus dialogue over, say, the proposed smoking ban or tuition hikes? What compelling cause are you triumphing that we don’t know about?

I know that our readership base comprises not only students, but teachers, parents, community members, administrators and beyond. In the spring of 2014, I’m looking forward to an ever-intensified dialogue with our readers.

So write in. Respond in the form of letters to the editor, or submit a guest column; anyone can do it.

Join the conversation.

Whether we are ready for it or not, 2014 is coming — fast. For many of us, that means it’ll soon be time to don our caps and gowns and bid adieu. For others, 2014 will mean the completion of a first semester away at college, or just one more semester closer to the big day.

No matter what, the end of the semester means that it’s time to look around and take stock. In many ways, the opinion section has proven to be a space for our community to openly share the reflections, causes and views that define us. At the same time, we’ve faced stark reminders of the ways we have to go before we can say we’ve honored our role as the voice of the student body.

For me, it’s been entirely rewarding to work with a devoted team of writers and editors to bring to light the people, stories, issues, debates, tragedies and success stories that make Binghamton, Binghamton. I’m looking forward to what 2014 will bring.

Views expressed in the opinion pages represent the opinions of the columnists.