Binghamton University’s administration didn’t have any large mistakes this semester, but still suffers from several smaller, ongoing issues. While officials were publicly responsive to events such as the death of Brandon Peart-Wright, social media posts made by Victor Skormin, a distinguished service professor of electrical and computer engineering and the recent campus protests, they are still failing to truly listen to what the student body wants and needs. This was evident just two weeks ago, when thousands of students signed a petition expressing their discontent with break scheduling around Thanksgiving and Easter. Although administrators changed the calendar for the 2020-21 academic year, they have yet to make any changes to the spring 2020 calendar. It was also clear when hundreds of students protested racism on campus, among other issues, a problem students of color have held demonstrations against for years to no avail. It is obvious students do not trust administrators to take significant steps toward solving important campus issues, and that lack of trust will only grow as an issue going forward unless University officials start listening.
Administrators did see one major success this semester — an end to the hiring hold, which began in November 2018 in response to BU’s financial challenges. Although it is clear the University’s financial situation is still problematic, lifting the hold eased some problems for academic departments. Still, many departments and University offices face budget constraints, and administrators do not appear to have learned any lessons about empty promises. When the lift was announced during BU President Harvey Stenger’s State of the University Address, he also casually brought up plans to revitalize the Fine Arts Building. Though the thought is appreciated, it seems like yet another empty statement regarding underappreciated and underfunded departments, and another example of administrators not taking the needs of their community seriously. All around, the Administration is receiving a higher grade than usual, not necessarily for doing more good for the University, but realistically for messing up less.
Student Association: A-
Last semester, the Editorial Board heavily criticized the Student Association (SA) for its glaring communication and transparency problems, but this year’s Executive Board has made serious efforts to rectify those issues. At the beginning of the semester, the SA sent out a feedback form to campus groups that participated in University Fest, and SA E-Board members, especially President Emma Ross and Vice President for Multicultural Affairs Khaleel James, have been far more visible and accessible than last year’s leaders.
Additionally, the SA has thus far avoided the gaffes of previous e-boards. The Fall Leadership Conference ran relatively smoothly in comparison to last year and Vice President for Programming Chris Wright managed to put together a fall concert, although the headliners were somewhat lackluster. E-board members have also come up with some solid ideas and initiatives they are working to put into place on campus. Ross’ sexual assault education campaign is necessary and off to a strong start, and the SA is working on developing a housing advisory project to help students navigate off-campus rentals and provide resources. As per usual, the Vice President for Finance office, headed by Alec Somerstein, has done a solid job of helping student groups handle their finances and informing them of changes in policies, quickly communicating and fixing issues that arose with the voucher dashboard earlier this semester. As a cherry on top, SA Congress has moved legislation and resolutions through efficiently this semester and has consistently sent out meeting minutes. Overall, while the SA still has some areas that need improvement, the 2019-20 E-Board is taking important steps forward, ones we hope will continue.
SA Programming Board: B-
While nothing this fall has compared to the chaos of last semester’s Playboi Carti ticket distribution, the Student Association Programming Board’s (SAPB) offerings this semester have been slightly less than ideal. Both the fall concert and this semester’s BUMP show seemed lacking in promotion, and the former saw noticeably low turnout. While we applaud the SAPB for booking Doja Cat, a female artist with a relatively small but dedicated fanbase, we feel the headliner could have been more exciting. Additionally, while this semester’s comedy act certainly saw some buzz — Pete Davidson has apparently generated enough star power to sell out his show at the Osterhout Theater — we would have rather seen someone with a better track record in terms of ableism and misogyny. Planning also seemed to pose some issues for the SAPB this semester — while we were fans of the SAPB’s first Fall Festival, held in the University Union’s Mandela Room the same evening as Paul Cherry’s BUMP performance, it seemed somewhat disorganized, especially since it drew a big crowd. Nevertheless, the festival is a promising new tradition that could potentially draw new faces to the SA’s more underground programming, and we look forward to seeing what is in store for next semester.
Though the semester got off to a slow start with fall sports, the success of both of BU’s basketball programs and its wrestling team have resulted in a mostly positive semester for BU athletics. With the exception of an embarrassing winless season for the volleyball team, all of BU’s athletics programs met or exceeded expectations this semester. The standout team so far has been women’s basketball, which is off to a perfect 9-0 start. The men’s basketball team, which faced a lot of turnover in the offseason, has won a few key games thus far, while the wrestling team has competed well in early season events. The two soccer teams more or less met expectations, with both qualifying for the America East postseason, and the women’s team finishing above .500. Additionally, the Editorial Board feels it is important to acknowledge that the athletics department has not had the easiest semester in the wake of the death of men’s basketball player Calistus Anyichie. We give the department credit for appropriately honoring his life throughout the semester and for handling the situation with the care, sensitivity and openness that it deserved.
Auxiliary Services: C-
Services on campus, especially food and dining services, are rarely something to laud, and this year is no different. This semester has been full of significant reductions to students’ access to food on campus. Construction in Hinman College took out the Hinman Dining Hall for the entire semester, with no clear progress or even a time frame for its reopening. Additionally, the food policy put in place earlier this semester is enabling a Sodexo monopoly on campus, one that never should have been established in the first place. Furthermore, it restricts student groups, particularly multicultural organizations, from raising revenue and hosting catered events. To make matters worse, the Food Co-op shut down for the semester because of unnecessary renovations in the University Union basement, limiting student-sourced food to just the John Arthur Cafe in Fine Arts. Not all is bad, however. Although Hinman Dining Hall has been closed all semester, the beloved Starbucks location didn’t go down with it. Instead, the Starbucks truck has offered signature caffeinated drinks to students across campus, even if it is hard to find at times and necessitates waiting in line in the cold. Other welcome news included the potential for new food options on campus, such as the ever-popular Binghamton Hots. Finally, thanks to the efforts of the Student Culinary Council, the installation of the OZZI system, a reusable alternative to disposable dinnerware, is on the horizon. All things considered, it could be worse for Auxiliary Services, but it could also be way, way better.
Residential Life: C+
Last semester saw students bunking in hallway lounges as BU scrambled for housing space, and Residential Life hasn’t stepped up its game this fall. Progress on Hinman College renovations has been frustratingly slow, and while this one complaint might not warrant a low grade in light of last year’s crisis, we’re also extremely disappointed with how Residential Life handled its discovery of the annual RA “Hall Crawl.” Devaluing student employees by berating them and forcibly closing off the situation from media attention was an inexcusable blunder, and like BU’s administration, if Residential Life wants to best serve the student community, it is going to have to listen to residents — including its employees.