Binghamton University is set to begin the transition from online to in-person facilities within the upcoming months.
BU President Harvey Stenger announced at a BU Council meeting on April 23 that some offices would be moving back to in-person business starting June 1, and all faculty and staff would be working in person by Aug. 1. Stenger said in-person operations could begin as a result of the increase in vaccine availability, and the “offices that are required for us to run our summer programs” will be opening first. This decision followed an earlier announcement made in March from Stenger, stating the University is planning to transition toward a normal campus life this fall with all in-person classes, curricular and cocurricular activities.
Ryan Yarosh, the senior director of media and public relations at BU, expressed that the transition is important for both the students and the University.
“We believe that [having] in-person classes, as well as having in-person student and other campus services, is essential to students’ learning experiences and helps maintain the University’s high quality of research and scholarship,” Yarosh wrote in an email.
This transition announcement comes at a time when on-campus positive COVID-19 case numbers are at a low, with a 14-day positivity rate of 0.21 percent as of May 9. Despite this promising trend, Stenger noted the apprehensions some may feel with this shift to in-person interactions.
“We know that it will be a bit stressful, but we are giving people the summer to plan on how to make that return successful for everyone,” Stenger said.
Megan Delaney, a sophomore majoring in business administration, expressed some of these concerns.
“I think it might not be the best idea,” Delaney wrote in an email. “Some people might not get the vaccine, and they’ll be putting other people at risk.”
As of now, neither SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras nor the University has made vaccinations mandatory for students, faculty or staff.
David Muchnick, a sophomore majoring in geography, said he also had concerns regarding the upcoming transition.
“I feel like shifting everything to in person is risky,” Muchnik said. “Ideally, everything should go back to normal, but, in a post [COVID-19] world, I think necessary precautions should be taken. I think the option to be online should still be permitted for sure. Will everyone have to be vaccinated to be on campus? If so, I definitely think that online options should be made available so that people’s freedom to get vaccinated or not remains intact, despite them continuing their academic careers at [BU].”
Annalee Molloy, an undeclared sophomore, said they were eager to return to a sense of normalcy.
“I am so excited,” Molloy wrote in an email. “I think that being back in person will create a better learning environment and overall academic experience.”
The transition from remote to in-person campus life is slated to begin with numerous in-person graduation ceremonies this month, according to Stenger.
“We’ll have about 400 people in the Events Center, which holds 7,000 people,” Stenger said. “We will do 27 ceremonies over the course of four days.”
COVID-19 vaccinations or negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results from three days prior are required to attend. For more information about vaccinations in the area, click here.