The Binghamton Policy Project (BPP), an organization giving students a forum to organize and improve their communities through progressive policy activism, has unveiled its 2024 Policy Blueprint.

Published annually, the blueprint covers a range of local policies geared toward both Binghamton University and Broome County. BPP members convene at the beginning of the fall semester to discuss issues within the community and then form groups, each of which will meet with community members and stakeholders while researching new policies. Policies are drafted during the spring semester, with Happy Medium publishing this year’s blueprint, which includes policies relating to criminal legal reform, health care, environmental issues and community engagement.

The criminal legal reform group spoke to incarcerated individuals in the Broome County Jail, who made claims to local activist organization Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier that those going through opioid withdrawal were often not treated appropriately under the Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) program.

“The MOUD program has the ability to reduce overdoses, opioid use and overall health when implemented effectively,” Luna Azcurrain, a co-president of BPP and a sophomore majoring in Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies, wrote. “People in the jail have reported not receiving their medication, receiving medication that is cross-contaminated with other medications and not being accepted into the program overall, along with other issues.”

To improve their treatment, members wrote policies urging the Sheriff’s Office to be more transparent about the MOUD program, ensuring that incarcerated individuals receive proper treatment for opioid addictions and other medical issues while improving existing medical resources’ applications.

Amid ongoing concerns surrounding student mental health services, policy project members met with Johann Fiore-Conte, an associate vice president for student affairs and the University’s chief health and wellness officer, and Chris Downey, the director of health and counseling. After bringing their concerns about the state of mental health care to University administrators, they consulted the Mental Health Coalition to ensure their policies accurately reflected student opinion.

Some proposals to increase student access to care included a mental health newsletter informing students about existing resources, physical signs for the University Counseling Center and the formation of a subcommittee devoted to mental health on the Student Health Advisory Committee. They suggested more transparency surrounding the 10-session brief therapy model to assure students that they “will not be abandoned” after the sessions are completed . Members also wrote policies extending the Decker Student Health Services Center’s operating hours and advertising existing resources more effectively to address a lack of campus health care outreach.

To increase on-campus sustainability initiatives and make information more accessible, BPP collaborated with the Sustainability Hub to expand their Equitable Sustainability Literacy Guide — a website “about educating readers on environmental issues and providing ways to get involved,” according to Julia Smargiassi, BPP’s vice president and a senior majoring in political science.

The environmental policies also include a section where other Universities’ case studies are used to highlight the merits of sustainable infrastructure on college campuses. These case studies include farm usage for dining services and compost bins at Bucknell University as well as the Eddington Development at Cambridge University — a subsidized housing project for students and staff that uses renewable energy resources and provides access to sustainable transportation, among other environmentally conscious practices.

After recognizing a lack of engagement by University students with the greater Broome County community, BPP students proposed a new UNIV 101 class that teaches students about the history and culture of the area. Based on Fordham University’s “HPRH 1104: Bronx Exploration” course, lessons will include lectures from the Native American tribes indigenous to the land and residents involved in the formation of IBM and the Endicott-Johnson Shoe company. Students would also get involved with local organizations to learn more about the current community and foster future engagement in Broome County.

Abby Connors, a co-president of the BPP and a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law, emphasized that the organization will continue to work to put these policies into practice. She encouraged students to share their views on the policies and show their support by signing on at the organization’s Blueprint Reveal Party, which will be held on April 30 at 7:30 p.m. in University Union West 325.

“We encourage students and organizations to come out to this party to discuss our policies and share their thoughts and ideas with us,” Connors wrote. “Food and drinks will be provided. We will also be tabling during Spring Fling to give students the opportunity to sign their support for our policies.”