As Binghamton University students make their way to and from Mountainview College’s Appalachian Hall to get food and attend class every day, hundreds opt to take the quickest route between it and the main part of campus — a slippery dirt pathway between Appalachian and Lot W that is not technically supposed to be open to foot traffic.
Students climb through a gap in a fence near the top of the path that is meant to stop them from using this dangerous walkway.
According to Mountainview President Sean Muir, a prospective student fell and broke her wrist while walking down the path last year.
“People in Mountainview sit on the side of Appalachian and watch people fall on the ice,” Muir said. “It’s become a laughingstock that it hasn’t been fixed already.”
Concerns over the safety of the path and proposals to pave it have become major topics of contention between students and the University administration within the last year. The Student Association and all of the residential communities have begun a push to solve the problem once and for all.
According to College-in-the-Woods President Mark Soriano, a significant amount of funds have been set aside for the path from the Dormitory Income Fund Reimbursable (DIFR) budget, which is given to the residential communities every year for structural improvements. Soriano said that $40,000 of last year’s DIFR budget and $60,000 of this year’s, nearly the entire budget, have been pledged to the construction of a new path.
However, funding is still not sufficient to build the path, and other obstacles to construction exist, including legal requirements that the path be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
At this time, the administration has chosen not to shoulder the cost of the path, which an engineering survey commissioned by the University approximately one year ago estimated to cost between $240,000 and $270,000, according to BU spokesman Ryan Yarosh. This cost would further be compounded by the costs of upkeep.
Yarosh stated that though renovation of the path by the University will not take place immediately, it may potentially be part of a future plan to renovate Hinman College’s recreational facilities.
“While the University would like to provide a more convenient pedestrian route from Mountainview to the Lecture Hall area than currently exists, we don’t want to commit significant funds to a path simply to have to tear it up again,” Yarosh said. “When there is a definitive plan for the development of that area of campus, we will, as part of that plan, address the pedestrian route between Mountainview and the Lecture Hall area. Until that time, we encourage students to use the existing concrete and paved paths to walk to and from Mountainview.”
Student Association President Jared Kirschenbaum called on the University not to put off the issue of the Mountainview path any longer.
“It’s not something that can wait three years,” Kirschenbaum said. “This is something that needs to be built right now.”
Without funding from the University, it appears that the cost of paving the Mountainview path will be left to the Student Association and the residential communities for the time being.
“This year we initiated a Mountainview Dirt Path Committee,” Muir said. “They are working on a large scale fundraiser to add to the money but also to show how important the issue is to the whole campus and to the administration.”
Muir is cautiously optimistic that these efforts will soon yield results.
“I think now as the semester goes along we’ll find out if we’ll be able to get something done,” he said.