In the wake of two assaults of Binghamton University students in Downtown Binghamton, the Housing and Safety Fair, hosted by the Off Campus College Council, touched on safety precautions for those who live off campus, in addition to housing options for next year.
“Safety has always been an issue for my office,” said Milton Chester, assistant dean for off-campus programs and services. “We did not necessarily [have the fair] because there was an assault. Safety is something that we always think about.”
The fair, held in the Mandela Room in the University Union on Tuesday afternoon, featured a range of representatives from apartment-rental agencies, property-rental offices, the city of Binghamton and Binghamton’s New York State University Police. Students who attended the event were provided free food and entered in a raffle to win a number of prizes, including a $500 Visa gift card and an iPad.
Attendees were greeted at the door by Chester, who said the event was intended to educate students on their options when moving off campus, emphasizing the importance of off-campus safety.
Careline Ramirez, a sophomore majoring in English, said her main concern about moving off campus had been price.
“[My friends and I] were thinking about moving to [U Club] next year because we really liked the housing in general,” Ramirez said. “My only concern about moving off campus is price, but I learned it is cheaper to live off campus than to live on campus.”
According to BU’s 2017-18 housing rates, the average cost of living on campus is $14,577, which also accounts for room and board. The price for off-campus housing varies depending on property type, the number of rooms and the location of the property. According to apartments.com, student-apartment complexes range in price from $900 to $1,500, while housing rentals range from $350 to $800 per month.
James Tweedie, the general manager of Twin River Commons, a student-only apartment-rental property located next to the University Downtown Center, said his company attended the fair to promote their facility and make contact with students directly.
Last week’s assault on a 21-year-old female BU student occurred on the sidewalk outside the housing complex. Tweedie said students should take a proactive approach to off-campus safety.
“[Students should] be prepared,” Tweedie said. “[Binghamton] is a city just like any other place, and you have to take precautions to make sure that you are safe at all times.”
Representatives at the fair also stressed the importance of making smart decisions when renting a property. The fair provided students with the opportunity to meet with companies like Safer Stays, an inspection service catering to students.
Clara Lawrence, managing partner at Safer Stays, said her company wants to help first-time renters navigate the housing market. The company also offers security deposit protection plans to safeguard students’ money.
Sally Bishop, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, said although she already lives off campus, she attended the event to see her options and participate in the raffle. Bishop said before she moved off campus, she had concerns for her safety but has since acclimated herself to the area.
“I did have a lot of concerns last year,” Bishop said. “I think once you know where you live and you talk to people about where the safe areas are, it’s not a big deal.”