In an attempt to incite discussions on issues impacting Binghamton University’s campus and the tri-city community, some students are attempting to re-establish the Political Economy and Culture (PEC) group.
Vik Chaubey, who studies sociology as a graduate student as a part of the Philosophy Interpretation and Culture program, is re-establishing a long-dormant group: Political Economy and Culture.
The group was originally founded in the 1997-98 school year by students in the sociology department. Chaubey re-established the group this past April.
He stated that he was driven to create the group by what he saw as the disengagement of the campus with the local community and a lack of discussion on a variety of issues. Some of the issues he wants to address include the impact of the University’s expansion, as well as the case of Andre Massena, who recently sued BU and the city of Binghamton for First Amendment rights violations.
Chaubey pointed to what he saw as a disproportionate number of students in ‘house parties and bars.’
According to Chaubey, the two main reasons for starting the group are to address issues that the campus community hasn’t been discussing and to give students the chance to make a difference in relation to these issues.
‘How many people know about gentrification taking place in Binghamton neighborhoods?’ he asked in a handout. He added, ‘Why is the campus not engaged on issues like Andre?’
In order to discuss some of these issues, Chaubey organized the group’s first meeting, or what he called a ‘forum,’ last Friday. The meeting was attended by undergraduate and graduate students, as well as alumni of the University, totaling about 10 people in all.
The group raised issues at the meeting ranging from how bus schedules and the University’s proposed law school would affect the local community to rent controls under Section 8, a federal provision allowing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide subsidized housing for low-income families.
Greg Branum, a BU alumnus, was invited to the forum by Chaubey. Branum noted the long waiting lists for subsidized housing and pointed to the tension that might build between low-income residents and student housing that might result in their displacement.
‘Low-income people have to be included in the setting of priorities,’ he said.
‘Does anybody know about [the] proposed Binghamton University law school and the harmful effects it would have on poor people in Binghamton?’ Chaubey’s handout read.
‘People are just not that informed about a lot of things,’ Chaubey said. He plans to inform students by expanding PEC.
The PEC plans to create workshops and get students involved to create an atmosphere where students and the community are more synchronized, according to Chaubey.
He noted that the process would be a part of ‘community building,’ in which the group’s activities would engage the campus in student affairs, the future of Off Campus College Transport and community outreach.