Binghamton University’s Town-Gown Advisory Board hopes to further bridge the gap between campus and the community, starting at their first meeting lined up for Tuesday, Oct. 3.
The board, the first of its kind, will bring together members of the University and local communities to address issues that affect both parties and provide recommendations on possible action.
Randall Edouard, co-chair of the board and the assistant vice president for student affairs, said the committee will have approximately 30 members and focus on issues including safety, transportation, community engagement, student housing and underage drinking.
“My vision for the board for sure is gathering the most talented people from all over the University and from all over the community,” Edouard said. “It’s sort of a large group, but most boards are kind of like that, and then breaking them down into these subcommittees to actually do some serious work.”
The board is expected to meet three times this academic year, with subcommittees gathering between meetings. Each of these subcommittees will have two co-chairs, one representing campus and the other the community.
Edouard, who served as BU’s director of undergraduate admissions before shifting to his current position in June, said compromise will play a key role in how the board operates.
“The real world tells me that you may be angry and want six things; well, you need to come to the table so we can discuss those six things and maybe you can get three,” Edouard said.
While plans for the board have been in-the-works for years, the call for the committee was renewed last spring during students’ protests against the proposed installation of a blue-light system on the West Side. The group, led by the Frances Beal Society, said discussions should be held with community members to decide an alternate use for the funding.
In late April, Brian Rose, vice president for student affairs, issued a statement confirming the University’s commitment to public safety in the city of Binghamton and said the board, rather than a handful of administrators, would determine future use of the funds.
“For this year, the projects and amounts funded will be determined by the recommendations of the Town-Gown Advisory Board and review by the City and University,” Rose wrote in an email.
Edouard echoed this sentiment.
“Nothing is really off the table; I’d like to have this board look at everything freshly and that [the] blue-light system will live and die with the board,” he said. “The resources that are available to spend will be proposed to the board and there will be recommendations in terms of where they think that funding should go.”
All recommendations made will be reviewed by the board’s executive committee, which consists of Rose, Binghamton Mayor Rich David and Terrence Kane, chief of staff in the BU President’s Office, for final approval.
The board’s actions will be based on the input of engaged community members who are volunteering their time, Edouard said.
“Now, it’ll be much more of a collaborative effort in terms of undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff, community folks, community-based organizations, city council members — everybody — chiming in saying, ‘Hey, we think this is a good idea,’ as opposed to some unilateral decision,” Edouard said.