With goals of bringing together members of Binghamton University and the city of Binghamton to influence a safer and healthier community, BU’s Town-Gown Advisory Board (TGAB) will be implementing several recently funded initiatives.
On Sept. 21, at the first BU Council meeting for the 2018-19 academic year, administrators in the Division of Student Affairs office gave updates regarding the TGAB’s health and wellness projects. Randall Edouard, co-chair of TGAB, interim dean of students and assistant vice president for student affairs, announced seven proposals to the Council, five of which were already partially funded and ready to put into action.
“We just completed our first year of having a Town-Gown Advisory Board, and I’m happy to report that we were extremely successful,” Edouard said.
The board consists of 32 representatives from across the area and is structured by an executive committee, which serves as a decision-making body, five subcommittees and a steering committee, which consists of the co-chairs of the five subcommittees. The subcommittees focus on student housing, safety, promoting and cultivating positive community engagement, transportation and parking and dangerous underage drinking.
At a meeting held in September 2017, Edouard said the board’s actions would be based on the input of engaged community members who volunteer their time for collaborative efforts. During its first year, the full board met three times, and the subcommittees met numerous times to draft proposals to present for funding consideration.
“They all had to provide at least one full proposal to be reviewed,” Edouard said. “Of seven proposals presented, the executive committee approved five for funding.”
At the next official meeting on Oct. 24, the board will publicly announce its plans to implement these proposals. From the underage drinking subcommittee, a proposal for a data-driven collaboration received approval for up to $20,000 in funding. The project is subject to agreement with the Binghamton Campus Community Coalition (BCCC) on an approach that aligns with the BCCC charge.
BCCC is a partnership that aims to reduce underage drinking and substance abuse, particularly on college campuses. The broad-based coalition includes representatives from the Binghamton mayor’s office, Binghamton Police Department, Broome County Health Department, local business owners and offices on campus that deal with students at risk for alcohol and drug abuse.
“It’s a data-driven approach to address [underage drinking],” Edouard said. “We need to know what’s going on, and we don’t have the full blast of exactly what [that is]. We have a lot of anecdotal information, but we want real data.”
The subcommittee for safety received approval to fund a public safety consultant, or transportation expert, to assess and provide recommendations of what might be done to improve off-campus safety overall.
“It’s a multifaceted proposal,” Edouard said. “We agreed to provide funding for a consultant to find the actual issues about what is happening off campus. Once we have that information, we will continuously attack this particular problem.”
The other initiatives include a transportation and parking proposal to research and assess North Side transportation issues and a student housing proposal to train BU interns to disseminate information to fellow students on housing availability and services offered by Binghamton City Code Enforcement. “Cry, Laugh, Create,” a proposal from the subcommittee for promoting and cultivating positive community engagement, also was approved and will encourage BU students and Binghamton residents to share personal stories and build relationships.
“We are going to begin to really engage students with residents in the city of Binghamton,” Edouard said.