In January, Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger announced the expansion of the Binghamton Advantage Program (BAP), a collaborative admissions program with SUNY Broome Community College (BCC). The University recently announced the termination of the program.
BU’s statement announcing the discontinuation of BAP comes after over 10 years of cooperation with BCC. The program allows new college students who take classes at BCC to live on BU’s campus for one or two years, with the goal of them transferring once they graduate with a minimum 2.7 GPA. According to BAP’s website, the University is working with the last group of students this year to ensure that they obtain the resources and support necessary to transfer. The program currently has around 250 SUNY Broome students living on BU’s campus.
Ryan Yarosh, BU’s senior director of media and public relations, said that additional programs will improve educational access.
“Although we have made the decision to end BAP, we will continue our shared academic goals with the community and [BCC],” Yarosh wrote in an email. “We have heard for years that more students would like to attend [BU] and we believe this will absolutely ensure more access to those students.”
He added that the recently launched Broome to Binghamton (B2B) Guarantee program will provide more opportunities for local students and that eligible students who live within 60 miles of BU’s campus will be able to transfer to Harpur College of Arts and Sciences after fulfilling specific prerequisites at BCC.
Tony Hawkins, the president of BCC, called the University’s decision to end BAP “unfortunate” in a statement obtained by the Binghamton Homepage.
“We respect [BU’s] decision and appreciate all that our institutions have accomplished together since the program was established in 2011,” the statement says. “As the new president of [BCC], I am excited about this time of transition, as we approach opportunities for growth with strategy and optimism. With renewed energy, we will work to ensure that our students are informed and well-equipped to transfer to the very best institutions for their programs.”
Mevindra Sawh, a former BAP student and a senior majoring in economics, spoke about his experience in the transfer program and his thoughts on the program’s termination.
“Attending [BCC] as a BAP student allowed me to experience the social life of [BU’s] campus, while taking the various classes at Broome which ultimately helped me decide on the major I was going to pursue,” Sawh stated. “However, I’m not upset about the program ending. I experienced difficulties with the program while transitioning into BU’s classes. The whole process was somewhat confusing and I had felt that the BAP advisors recommended I take certain classes that weren’t best suited to the major I wanted to study.”
Sawh was not the only student who saw challenges participating in the BAP program. Ryan Hartnett, a BAP mentor and a sophomore majoring in psychology, spoke about how the program suffered from the absence of key personnel.
“Over the summer, [BCC] lost their academic advisor who worked for the BAP program,” Hartnett said. “She took a job at Cornell [University]. Even when school started, when the program started having its Welcome Week session, I knew at that point they hadn’t found someone to replace her yet.”
Hartnett also elaborated on other issues that BAP students ran into while in the program.
“A lot of them just felt both schools weren’t helping them out,” Hartnett said. “They were kind of forgetting about the problems that the program had and no one felt that they had any support. There were a lot of times where we would get up and walk all the way to the bus stops in the morning only to find out after waiting 20 minutes that our buses weren’t coming. It just felt a lot of time that the students were receiving the butt end of the stick.”
Despite challenges, Harnett disagreed with the decision to terminate the BAP program, saying that the program should have been changed to better focus on student satisfaction — including synchronizing the BAP academic calendar with BU’s academic schedule to ensure that students’ breaks aligned. He said that participating in the program helped him adjust to a college lifestyle.
BCC’s media office did not reply to a request for further comment.
Editor’s Note (9/21): This article has been edited to clarify that the SUNY Broome’s media office did not provide a response to our request. Pipe Dream regrets the error.