The Editorial Board is always pretty critical of the administration, and this semester is no different. We understand that administrators are busy navigating the budget crisis the University is facing, but they continue to keep the student body in the dark about their decisions. From what we can tell, the administration seems to be handling the situation relatively well. Given the constant criticisms about the University’s lack of transparency, we wonder why it remains so staunchly against making changes in that area. In particular, during the semester’s final Town-Gown Advisory Board meeting, it was made clear that the group made zero progress throughout the year, and students still have no idea what happened to the money that was poured into it.
The administration remained somewhat quiet this semester, and that is one of its faults. Aside from the lack of transparency, administrators lacked adequate communication skills in general. This semester, the University failed to say anything until six days after the murder of Shakeel Khan, as well as failed to meaningfully address Pipe Dream’s report about BU having the second-highest number of civil rights cases that were resolved with violations or corrective changes in the SUNY system. Whenever the administration is in the hot seat, it stays silent rather than communicate openly with the student body. The University’s lack of response to Khan’s murder, which left many Muslim students feeling unsafe, also underlines its refusal to commit to the safety of its students. The administration insisted it didn’t make a statement because no students were immediately in danger, and it only responded when students made it clear they do feel unsafe.
Overall, the Editorial Board, as usual, urges the University to increase its transparency and open avenues of communication with the student body. We understand the tough situation the administration is in, but that doesn’t mean it can’t do better.
Student Association: C-
The Student Association (SA) has a communication and transparency problem. This is not breaking news, but this semester, these issues were especially glaring. After fall concert was postponed and then canceled, students who had purchased tickets were left in limbo for weeks before receiving instructions on how to obtain a refund from the Student Association Programming Board (SAPB). For the entirety of the fall semester, SA Congress failed to update its website with meeting minutes and agendas that are supposed to be available to all undergraduate students, per the SA’s own management policies, and later in the academic year, it became apparent that freshmen and transfer students had not been receiving SA-Line, the SA’s newsletter, because of a Listserv error. Additionally, SA President Jerry Toussaint has seemed largely absent this year, as students have heard little from him.
This problem has also manifested itself in the SA’s communication with Pipe Dream, particularly the Editorial Board. When we have reached out to SA E-board members asking questions ahead of editorials, we have often received dismissive emails or no response at all. Although some SA E-board members have been responsive, it is unacceptable for others to avoid answering questions about their plans and actions, given they hold an elected office on campus.
There were successes within the SA this year: Darrell has done an admirable job of implementing workshops and guiding resources for presidents and treasurers of student organizations, Wehbe worked with Harpur College to launch a crash course series and propose a new course retake policy and Toussaint has fulfilled his election promise to reclaim the University Union as a place for students. Nevertheless, this year’s SA E-board was, overall, disappointing, and we hope that their successors will work to prioritize transparency and communication with the student body.
This semester, we were continually disappointed with the SAPB’s lack of communication and organization in regard to Spring Fling, especially in the wake of the fall concert’s several mishaps. One major issue similar to last semester was the ticketing situation, where students who wanted to attend the free concert were forced to wait hours in line during Spring Fling to grab a physical ticket. Because of choosing physical tickets over e-tickets, many students spent time waiting indoors and missed out on Spring Fling events. In addition, the SAPB did not take into consideration the numerous student groups that are housed in the basement where ticket pickups were being held, which led to the destruction of groups’ properties outside their offices. It is clear that the SAPB did not learn from their previous mistakes with the fall concert by still not maintaining clear communication with students. We hope that in the future, SAPB communicates with not only students, but also student groups for big events.
Although the SAPB did not handle Spring Fling well, we believe that Binghamton Underground Music Presents (BUMP), the comedy chair and the insights chair did a good job by bringing a diverse range of performers to campus this semester. For instance, BUMP hosted a successful spring concert by featuring a female headliner, Jamila Woods. The comedy chair also brought YouTube comedian Chris Fleming to campus, which had an impressive turnout by filling the room beyond capacity with students. The insights chair also chose successful guest speaker Jerry Greenfield, who attracted students with his lecture and free ice cream perk for all attendees.
After a dismal fall 2018 semester, in which none of the major fall sports managed to qualify for their respective America East postseasons, the athletics program rebounded with a successful spring semester that saw meaningful postseason progression among many of the winter and spring sports. Save for the two lacrosse teams, all of the winter and spring sports programs qualified for their postseason tournaments.
The highlight of the semester was the men’s basketball victory at Stony Brook in the first round of the America East Men’s Basketball Tournament. Seeded seventh, the Bearcats shocked the conference by knocking out the second-seeded Seawolves, an accomplishment that no one, including us, expected them to achieve. The women’s basketball team also had a solid season, making the playoffs despite losing its two best players to graduation.
The wrestling team notched its highest-ever finish in the EIWA conference and sent four players to the NCAA Championships, the most since 2013. In the diamond sports, softball won two consecutive elimination games in the recent postseason tournament and took the top seed, UMass Lowell, to extra innings. Baseball’s season is still ongoing, but they reside in second place in the AE as of this writing.
The only blemishes on athletics this semester were the lacrosse teams, which managed to muster only four wins between them. Had they been even mediocre, a grade of A- or even an A would have been considered.
Residential Life: B-
Residential Life (ResLife) has been a mixed bag this year. It started off strong by extending the housing deadline from October into February, allowing students to more freely explore their options before making a decision. Both those living on and off campus were less pressured to settle on their housing arrangements, giving students a better shot at finding their ideal home.
Transfer students and spring admits this semester were less fortunate, however. Twenty-eight students were forced to live in converted Hinman and Newing College lounges due to a high influx of students. Although it’s common practice for ResLife to create forced triples, this year’s overcrowding was funneled into temporary living spaces. These students were eventually relocated and given a discount for the duration of their lounge-living, but that doesn’t make up for ResLife’s substandard rooming practices.
ResLife has made clear efforts to mitigate the issues they’re often critiqued for, but with policies like that of the lounges-turned-dorm rooms, they’ve fallen short of executing an effective plan of improvement. Extending the deadline for housing is a light in the dark, however, and deserves recognition. Going forward, we hope to see positive changes that assuage the already difficult and ever-continuing housing process. ResLife’s celebrated and admonished actions have earned it a solid B-, showing promise with much room to improve.
Although the Editorial Board appreciates and acknowledges the important service that Off Campus College Transport (OCCT) provides every day, we want to call attention to a couple of incidents that took place this semester. In February, OCCT was criticized for posting advertisements on its buses for the Binghamton chapter of Birthright, a national pregnancy center. However, the advertisements were incredibly misleading — the organization holds pro-life views, but the flyer never mentions that. The Editorial Board understands that advertisements are essential to generating revenue and running a business; however, OCCT should pay closer attention to their audience, which comprises thousands of students. It’s worth mentioning that OCCT is still running these advertisements despite the backlash.
Moreover, when OCCT announced it would add a stop on the West Side (WS) routes to transport students closer to the Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier during the month of Ramadan, it did not indicate that this was due to the fatal shooting of Shakeel Khan in Johnson City last month. The Editorial Board believes that OCCT should have given a reason for this decision, as many Muslim students on campus expressed feeling unsafe after Khan’s murder. We believe that all student organizations should support their fellow students, specifically the organizations that serve us and are meant to keep us safe.