This past academic year produced an eventful news cycle and a wide range of coverage both on and off campus, ranging from the Vestal Christmas tree to student activism. As a new year approaches, Pipe Dream’s News Desk compiled a chronological list of the whirlwind year’s top stories.

Transgender activist Makyyla Holland wins settlement against Broome County Jail

After facing discrimination and violence while held at the Broome County Jail for six weeks, Makyyla Holland filed a lawsuit against Broome County, former Sheriff David Harder and other individuals who took part in her abuse. When she first entered the jail, Holland said she was forced to strip in the presence of male officers — a search later ruled illegal — and was not provided with hygiene products and clothing incarcerated women normally receive. She said that she was refused her antidepressants and hormone treatment while being housed in a men’s facility and placed in isolated confinement, among other violations. The settlement — $160,000 and a new county policy meant to protect the rights of LGBTI individuals — has the potential to aid in the passage of state legislation intended to protect incarcerated transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary and intersex individuals’ rights.

Anti-abortion table draws backlash, student protest

Members of Students for Life of America, a pro-life advocacy group, were tabling in the Glenn G. Bartle Library breezeway with members of the College Republicans when they were confronted by a group of protesters on Sept. 18. The group displayed large anti-abortion posters. Logan Blakeslee ‘24, the then-secretary of the College Republicans, said they were there to inform students about alternative options should they become pregnant. Dara Silberstein — an associate research professor of women, gender and sexuality studies and the director of the women’s studies program — led her class to confront the table, and a crowd began descending around them. At one point during the demonstration, pro-choice demonstrators allegedly dropped model fetuses into their mouths.

‘Campus Preacher’ spews sexist, homophobic rhetoric, inciting Spine chaos

Back in October, Keith Darrell, an evangelist from Idaho, drew a large crowd and a police presence on the Spine as he preached racist, homophobic and other discriminatory rhetoric. He remained on campus for over two hours two days in a row, evoking debate between himself and groups of students assembled around him. At one point, he attempted to justify a death sentence for homosexuals and made misogynistic remarks surrounding what he viewed as men’s natural biological advantage over women.

‘Israel is my family’: University’s Jewish community organizes vigil

Gathering on the Peace Quad, students attended the vigil to “Unite Against Terror” in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. The Zionist Organization, Hillel at Binghamton, Orthodox Union-Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus and the Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life were the main organizers of the vigil, which served as a forum for students to express their grief and fear. Several students spoke about loved ones, and many lit candles in a show of remembrance. The vigil was the first of many throughout the year, and its organizers credited its success to the unity between major Jewish organizations on campus.

‘Our voices will not be silenced’: SJP holds rally for Palestinian solidarity

On October 14, SJP held their first rally in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. The protest, held outside the Library Tower, was mainly organized amid developments in the Middle East, and speakers condemned the mass displacement of Palestinians the same year the State of Israel was established in 1948, as well as the Israeli government for their blocking of aid to civilians. Protesters descended the Spine where they were met with rows of counterprotesters holding Israeli flags. This rally was only the first of many held throughout the year.

Hundreds gather for silent vigil

The campus community gathered for a silent vigil to mourn the tragic death of a fellow student on the evening of Oct. 30. Spearheaded by the Thurgood Marshall Pre-Law Society, candles were distributed with flyers highlighting campus mental health resources. Flowers and candles were placed around a tree on the Peace Quad in remembrance as the vigil concluded after over an hour.

That morning, a B-Alert notified the campus of a disturbance at the Library Tower, and classes were subsequently canceled about a half hour later. University President Harvey Stenger issued a statement several hours after, confirming the death and that the student’s family had been notified. The gathering served as a stark reminder of the importance of mental health and standing together as a community.

Jury returns ‘not guilty’ verdict for Colonial case defendants

After a legal battle spanning almost two years, the two remaining defendants in the Colonial case, Yaron Kweller and Jordan Ringden, were found not guilty by a Broome County jury. Arrested on Feb. 22, 2022, Kweller and Ringden were charged with sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman. The men previously owned The Colonial and Dos Rios Cantina, two restaurants that have since been shut down. Elena Fast, an attorney on the case, said the prosecution’s case was “unfounded and legally [unsupported],” while Michael Korchak, the then-Broome County district attorney, stood with his office’s prosecutors and expressed solidarity with the victims.

Vestal Christmas tree bound for Rockefeller Center

Last year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree journeyed from Vestal to the heart of Manhattan. Erik Pauze, Rockefeller Center’s head gardener, selected it while driving in the Binghamton area to visit a different tree, not too far away from the one that caught his eye. It originally stood in the yard of the McGinley family, who remarked that somebody had told them their tree looked fit for Rockefeller not too long before Pauze knocked on their door. The Norway Spruce arrived in the city on Nov. 11 and was lit during the annual tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 29 — a piece of Binghamton standing tall in midtown Manhattan.

East Gym to tentatively abolish dress code

It was announced in mid-November that administrators at the East Gym — the primary physical facility on campus — were to begin dissolving the dress code. This development followed a resolution passed by the Student Association Congress the previous December authored by Mackenzie Cooper, now the BU Council Representative, and Batia Rabin, now the SA’s executive vice president. The resolution said that instead of managing the clothes students choose to wear to the gym, administrators should instead focus on enforcing the policy of wiping down equipment before and after use to reduce the spread of disease.

Students for Justice in Palestine, now fully-chartered, hopes to amplify pro-Palestinian voices on campus

Provisionally chartered in May 2022, SJP became fully chartered by the SA this year. This development came after months of SJP-led activism centered around the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The organization has faced criticism from some student groups and public officials, like Rep. Marc Molinaro, who advocated for the banning of SJP across numerous college campuses in December. In a statement, SJP’d E-Board said that being chartered has allowed them to expand their efforts around campus.

Solar eclipse passes through New York state, clouds block campus view

In a refreshing demonstration of campus unity, students gathered to witness the solar eclipse on April 8. While Binghamton did not lie in the zone of totality — the geographic area where the eclipse could be viewed to its fullest extent — this did not stop students from flocking to the Peace Quad in large numbers to gaze up at the sky through their eclipse glasses and attempt to view the celestial phenomenon. Though they were largely met with cloudy skies, the day presented an opportunity for students to come together through a mix of an exciting solar event and disappointment brought by the unfortunate weather.

BDS resolution passes

After an hours-long SA Congress meeting, a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions resolution — which pronounced the SA’s support for the University’s divestment from companies with financial ties to Israel — was passed, with 14 votes in favor, 11 against, two abstentions and one vote deemed invalid. A crowd of student activists, met with a heavy police presence, assembled at Old Union Hall for the meeting. Organized by Divest from Death, a coalition of 20 student organizations at the time, legislation was titled “Resolution Calling for Binghamton University Divestment,” and a central demand was for the SA to use its platform to pressure University administrators to terminate partnerships with the defense industry. Parts of the resolution were struck down weeks later by the SA’s Judicial Board. (11)

A look into the Peace Quad encampment’s final day

Following similar demonstrations at several leading American universities, the Divest from Death coalition established an encampment on May 1 in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. A Palestine Solidarity Festival began earlier in the day featuring speakers, live music and sign painting. Around sundown, attendees grouped tents in a corner of the Peace Quad and designated it a Liberation Zone. The encampment remained for nearly three days, before being disassembled around an hour before a 5 p.m. deadline on May 3.

Demonstrators led speeches and chants throughout the encampment’s existence, distributing food and water to participants. A letter signed by a faculty committee expressing support for the encampment began circulating Friday morning with signatures from faculty representing over 12 departments and programs. After the encampment was disassembled, protesters marched to the Pegasus statue, where they condemned University administration for ignoring student concerns and demands.

Plan B vending machine unveiled 

Unveiled at the end of the spring semester, the machine will dispense emergency contraceptives for $10 in the basement of Glenn G. Bartle Library. Originally discussed at a meeting organized by the Latin American Student Union, emergency contraception access became the focal point of the project, leading Luca Cassidy, the SA’s vice president for student success and a rising senior double-majoring in economics and sociology, to propose the 24/7 vending machine. Nora Monasheri ‘23, MBA ‘24, the then-BU Council representative, offered to help Cassidy execute the idea. As we near the start of the incoming fall semester, the machine will finally be fully operational.