Marisa Smith/Contributing Photographer Students learn about off-campus housing opportunities at the Housing and Safety Fair hosted by the Off-Campus College Council (OC3). The fair featured representatives from student housing companies, landlords and police to collectively address questions and concerns about living off-campus.

With dorm sign-up deadlines approaching and leases already being signed, the Off Campus College Council (OC3) hosted a Housing and Safety Fair to provide students with information about living Downtown.

Landlords, Binghamton Police and campus organizations tabled in the Mandela Room Thursday to offer a variety of housing options and address safety concerns about the local area.

“Because of the Nov. 3 sign-up deadline, we felt off-campus students needed a similar set-up,” said Steven Molinari, a member of OC3 and a senior majoring in political science.

Housing communities and landlords approved by the University’s Off Campus College attended to let students know their available housing options, as well as to gain advertising exposure.

“We’re here to feel out who’s looking and what they’re looking for,” said Katy Watson, assistant general manager of University Lofts. “Events like this are going to be the first place they go.”

Nick Tzavis, the general manager of Twin River Commons, said that students should consider the growth and improvements in the local area.

“Binghamton has a lot to offer,” Tzavis said. “Downtown is expanding a lot; it’s getting revitalized.”

There was stronger focus on safety at the housing fair than there was last year, according to OC3 President Lynn Mugodo. In the wake of recent muggings in the Downtown area, the OC3 wanted to address safety concerns and hosted a discussion panel after the fair that featured guest speakers who answered any questions students might have.

The off-campus safety panel included Binghamton police officer Dan Flanders, who gave advice on being aware while living and traveling Downtown.

“Stay alert, know your surroundings,” Flanders said. “Don’t let your smart phone make you dumb. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, listen to your instincts.”

The International Students and Scholar Services (ISSS) also tabled to address the specific concerns of international students. According to Linda Torricelli, programming coordinator of the ISSS, it can be more difficult for international students to find housing without proper knowledge of the Binghamton area and tenant rights.

“It’s often hard for international students to find housing because they are international — networking is key,” Torricelli said. “We are having a housing panel Nov. 20 and one of the topics of the panel is safety.”

The housing community representatives and landlords that attended the fair addressed security benefits that their properties provided, such as 24/7 surveillance cameras and gated perimeters.

Jessica Raghunanan, a representative of the Interpersonal Violence Prevention center, said students needed to be aware of safety resources on and off campus.

“Our main goal is to make sure students are safe,” said Raghunanan, a graduate assistant studying social work and public administration. “There is no administration or faculty to look out for students, so they need to know how to act and what’s available.”

Working with campus and victim support and service groups, the IVP aims to educate students on what resources and support are available, like the domestic violence organizations Rise and the Crime Victims Assistance Center.

“People are definitely more likely to feel unsafe Downtown,” said Cristina Quinn, a sophomore double-majoring in sociology and human development. “Students need to be prepared for anything,”