On Tuesday, the Student Association’s (SA) vice president for student success (VPSS) organized a town hall meeting for Binghamton University students to voice their concerns and connect with members of the SA.
The event was held in the Multipurpose Room in the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center (C4) from 8 to 10 p.m. Members of the SA and the VPSS office organized the open invite meeting to better understand the challenges that students face, and one of the main goals of the meeting was to inform and educate students about the SA and its functions on campus. The idea for the town hall came from Jayshawn Brown, the chief of staff for student success and a junior majoring in computer engineering, who explained his perspective on the SA when he was a new student.
“Before I joined [the] SA, there was so much I didn’t know and so much I wasn’t aware of, ” Brown said. “Coming from the experience of having been an average student or even being a club leader and just not knowing what SA does or how to contact them. I just felt if I had that experience, someone else has as well.”
Elisheva Ezor, the SA’s president and a senior double-majoring in mathematical sciences and business administration, opened the meeting by expressing her gratitude to attendees and the VPSS office for organizing the meeting. She then discussed spring’s SA elections and some projects the organization is currently working on.
“We are really in the forefront of meeting with administration and having conversations with groups,” Ezor said. “Something that gets lost is, there are 18,000 students that go to this school, and we are trying to represent the needs of everyone but it’s hard to know. I think that events like this where students come out and communicate how they’re feeling and what their needs are and what their opinions are, that will help us be better representatives for the entire student body.”
Luca Cassidy, the current VPSS and a junior double-majoring in economics and sociology, encouraged students to look into SA positions and their roles in managing campus life.
“SA generally is the body of students that represents the students,” Cassidy said. “That happens in many different ways and in different sections. The majority of our work involves managing all of the clubs on campus, managing their budgets, which clubs becomes clubs and clubs conflicts, helping them book rooms and that type of stuff.”
He also mentioned the current initiatives his office is working on, including a Plan B vending machine that will allow students to have immediate access to emergency contraceptives. Cassidy and other SA leaders felt that students struggled to connect and interact with the SA, which contributed to the planning of the town hall, and the VPSS office plans on holding two more meetings next semester to remedy this problem.
After introductions, Ezor and Cassidy opened the floor to questions from participants about the SA and issues they were experiencing on campus. Participants brought up a multitude of issues, with Residential Life being brought up most often. A ResLife employee expressed the need for student employee advocates in the office and addressed the lack of timely communication between ResLife and the Student Support Assistants (SSAs) and Community Assistants (CAs). A representative from the Dickinson Town Council echoed this concern in their community.
Another student brought up deficits in mental health care, particularly a lack of awareness about on-campus mental health resources.
Ezor and Cassidy emphasized that the SA serves as a liaison between students and the administration, and they are currently advocating for students and working on more ways for students to express their grievances to the administration. They also pitched some ways they could communicate with students to keep them informed on issues while preventing the spread of misinformation.
After the event ended, Ezor expressed gratitude for the ability to hear from students about their experiences.
“I was really happy with it, any opportunity for the [SA] to connect more directly with students and what they are interested in and this is just one opportunity for that where it is open for everyone and anyone can come talk to us,” Ezor said. “I love ideas like this.”