As Pipe Dream’s assistant fun editor, I’ve joked in person and in memes about the sheer number of construction projects Binghamton University is currently working on. To name a few, there’s Hinman Dining Hall and Cleveland Hall of Hinman College, the Engineering Building, the University Union Undergrounds, the Science Library and Parking Lot M. This list doesn’t even include sidewalks, paths and tiles that have been getting constant upgrades over the years.
But each one of these projects was started before the previous was completed, beginning construction between last spring semester and now, and are all in a varying degree of completion today. This makes campus appear to be constantly under heavy renovation, and has the unfortunate effect of an academia version of Professor Calamitous, a cartoon villain who iconically “could never finish anything.” It’s not a good look for the University, and even worse, it’s an inconvenience for students, faculty and staff.
Time and again I’ve had to take an alternate route on my way to class because of sudden and unexpected construction projects. The first time I really took notice of it was last school year, when buildings in College-in-the-Woods were being revamped. It was my third year as a Mountainview College resident, and I had gotten used to using the trail paths as an ultimate shortcut down to the University Union and Engineering Building area. But within the first few weeks of the fall 2018 semester, the trails were closed off by fences and I had to create an alternate daily route. Not only were my precious trails closed off, but so were much of the College-in-the-Woods walkways and staircases that so many other students used each day. Without a proper warning or even knowledge of these changes, students may face being late to class, lose their favorite spots on campus or feel displaced from what is supposed to feel like their home away from home.
Another unintentional detour happened a few weeks ago as I was walking back to my car parked in Parking Lot M4, where there was a fence closing off a sidewalk that I had walked along earlier that same morning. Granted, both of these situations were simple enough to solve. If I couldn’t go over it, and I couldn’t go through it, I had to go around it. But it cost time and caused annoyance.
It’s one thing to have the entirety of campus in ruin for those who only see this campus as a school and nothing more, but more often than not students find a part of themselves here. In my case, the campus I saw as a prospective student was a major factor in why I decided on BU and living on campus for three years has only strengthened my appreciation for it. I’m not alone in this either — there are tons of students here who love the look of the campus and its facilities. So I ask, why would the administration want to fix something if it isn’t broken?
I do understand the benefits of the school demonstrating that they’re always working on something, no matter how big or small. As a creative individual, I know that the concept of having a work in progress is alluring to your audience. It creates an aura of mystery that intrigues and encourages them to want more and become more involved.
But the problem is that BU is not yet a creativity-focused university. If you need proof on that, notice which of the buildings are currently being renovated. The Fine Arts Building has needed renovations for years, and it has taken until President Harvey Stenger’s last State of the University address to announce it will finally get the attention it deserves. Despite its necessity, it remains just another of the seemingly endless construction projects ongoing around campus, as if the University never got finished being built in the first place. The facade of progress the school puts up about this never-ending construction project is not sustainable, especially at this volume.
Daniel Eisenhower is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering.