With finals and deadlines rapidly approaching, grades and GPAs are on all of our minds. As you study and finish up those bibliographies, take a minute to see how we graded the people and programs around us.
President Harvey Stenger: A-
President Stenger has clearly made an effort to be more involved and present on campus this semester, which we appreciate. We are cautiously optimistic about his “20,000 by 2020 plan,” which will double the current graduate program and increase undergraduate enrollment by 1,000 by 2020.
As Binghamton University undergoes the changes that this plan requires, we implore President Stenger and the rest of the administration not to forget about the things that matter to us. An ever-increasing student body cannot jeopardize attention on individual students. As the school grows, there will be added pressure on all of our resources. We must make sure that does not transfer into a decrease in services, particularly in ones that are already lacking, like the University Counseling Center.
Liberal arts are at the heart of our University. We hope that as STEM programs and our student body grow, we’ll still be able to learn from professors who stress critical thinking over finding a high-paying job. We also hope that environmental concerns won’t go by the wayside. There isn’t a tech solution for everything, and we still have some major issues to address — the deer population and on-campus coal plant topping the list.
When the highlight of your semester in sports is a runner breaking a four-minute mile, you haven’t been all too successful. No offense to Jesse Garn — we’re truly impressed — but students care more about winning basketball, lacrosse and baseball programs.
Men’s basketball finished its regular season with its best seven-game stretch under Tommy Dempsey, and the University appointed the right person, Linda Cimino, to take over a women’s basketball team that won just five games last year.
As for men’s lacrosse, the Bearcats’ impressive turnaround in conference play did not carry over into the conference tournament. Women’s lacrosse posted a record-breaking campaign but faded down the stretch and missed the America East tournament.
Baseball has hit its stride, but with another series before the conference tournament, the Bearcats still have work to do. And softball followed up its record-breaking 2013 season with a sub-.500 record
Student Association: B+
The SA has finally stopped screwing around with the blue buses, which is fantastic. Instead of spending time and resources trying to add fancy scanners and GPS capabilities, the SA is opting for a much more practical and necessary improvement this summer: the addition of five more buses. We’re thrilled with this change because it represents the kind of problem-solving that student government should embrace. It is focused on real student needs, like overcrowding on the early and late-night runs.
Elections, however, were far less impressive. As we have written in previous editorials, election bylaws are out of touch with current procedures. Because old rules didn’t address newer voting methods, the E-Board for the SA wasn’t officially assembled until six weeks after the election. We are not alone in this opinion: The Judicial Board, when it ruled on validity of the vice president for finance election, implored the SA to update the bylaws. The focus of the rules currently centers on policing candidates’ actions around polling places. The problem is, we no longer have polling places. Students are voting on their phones and laptops, and the rules need to reflect the election-day abuses that can occur on these devices.
SA Programming Board: A, but see us after class
The SAPB absolutely killed it with programming this year. J. Cole was amazing, Matt and Kim were the perfect choice for Spring Fling and Demetri Martin’s stand up was fantastic. After a disappointing 2012-2013 year, we were incredibly impressed with this year’s lineup.
This year, our only criticism of SAPB is its mishandling of International Fest. While we understand that some of the problem involved scheduling conflicts and factors outside of the SAPB’s control, we predicted that merging International Fest with Spring Fling would have exclusionary outcomes, and it did. There was the opportunity to integrate the two festivals, and you missed it. Anyone who made the walk from the Pegasus statue down the stairs to the Peace Quad saw how segregated each event was, and the homogeneity of each audience. People had commitments to their cultural groups or campus activities and could not make the time to mingle at the other events. For a school that prides itself on diversity and inclusion, it was disappointing to see how separated a University-wide event became.
The Marketplace: B+
If we were just grading the new space in the New Union, we would give it an A+. It’s great to have a central hub on campus to congregate. The seating accommodates solo-studiers and small groups just as well as it does pledge classes. It is comfortable and central and there are outlets everywhere.
The food options, however, have brought down the Marketplace’s overall grade. While we understand that retail-priced food is not meant to be the main staple of any student’s diet, most of the dishes available in the Marketplace are almost prohibitively expensive. Every meal doesn’t need to be cheap, but it’s unacceptable that there are no reasonably priced options. There is no reason that we should have to pay $8 for a sandwich that is no different from normal dining hall fare. You can’t go to the Union for a slice of pizza without waiting 20 minutes and paying $5 for an entire pie.
Student-Community Integration: Has Shown Improvement
It’s difficult to give a static grade to an issue as complex and dynamic as the relationship between BU students and local residents. The relationship is by no means perfect, but there have been some significant and noticeable changes this year that are worth mentioning.
This past weekend, the first annual ChestFest, brought students and locals together for a community celebration. This Chestnut Street block party, which featured local bands and vendors, was jointly organized by students and members of the community. Unlike Seminary Day, an event attended primarily by students, students and locals alike attended and interacted. Not only did students and locals interact, but these interactions were positive, with many a student and local carelessly grooving to the music, temporarily transcending the social stigma that exists between the groups. We hope to see more events like this in the future.
Another issue that unites the school and community is opposition to fracking. At every New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) rally, there are students and residents standing side-by-side holding signs and chanting. Wherever you stand on the issue, it is nice to see that students and residents can stand together.
With more student housing being built Downtown, we would like to see a little less apathy and a little more involvement on the part of our off-campus students. It is one thing to call Binghamton our home for four years, but quite another to actually make it our home. Invest yourself in local elections. This year, only 36 people voted on campus, and while there are no numbers for how many students voted off campus, we gather that off-campus student voting was not much better. This is unacceptable. Some of us may only be here for a short time, but we are still Broome County residents with an obligation to fulfill our basic civil duty.
Pipe Dream, looking back:
For Pipe Dream, the 2013-2014 academic year was as successful as it was challenging and difficult. Through letters, protest and meetings, we learned about core issues facing the paper. We recognize there is much work ahead of us. But we feel we’ve made strides toward improvement. We’ve paid more attention to how our paper represents diversity on campus, and we’ve made efforts to reflect that in our photography and event coverage, from inclusion in Weekend Warriors to reporting on events that are important to students from a wide array of backgrounds. We aren’t there yet. We are looking for the student body to help us take the next step. Step into the office. Write in to our opinion section. Let us know how we’re doing. We need all of your help in creating a more representative voice for our campus. We look forward to growing as a staff in the future, and we hope Pipe Dream is an environment where everyone feels welcome.