Alright newbs, listen up. You all are about to start the next four years of your life here, and as a graduating senior I’m only going to be here for one of them. Thinking about graduation too long will definitely give me nausea, but I’m going to brave it and do my best to impart your class with things that I wish I knew my freshman year.
First off, welcome to Binghamton University. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this place is great and if at first you don’t like what you see, open your eyes a little wider. Take it from someone that cried about having to go to BU during their last week of high school — when the sun shines and you are sitting outside University Union, and you see a theatre major loudly rehearsing a scene while a Fetty Wap song is blasting from somewhere and a kid you kind of know is trying to sell you ice pops to fund his mixtape, you’ll understand why this place is beautiful and great.
Sure, there might be times when you wish you went to a Big Ten school, or a place with castles for dorms and a 200-year history. But love BU for its America East athletics, brutalist architecture and 70-year legacy (if you count Triple Cities College, of course). Love Binghamton and it will love you back.
Since this is college, let’s talk academics first. Go sit with an advisor. BU won’t make it mandatory for you to go, so take this one mission upon yourself. I never went and wish I had just taken 30 minutes out of my existence to go.
Phew, we’re done with academics, I was boring myself. Just kidding. As both Fifth Harmony and Rihanna once said, “Work work work work work.” But as the Beach Boys once said, “Fun fun fun.”
Let’s go with the Beach Boys now. For me, one of the most defining factors of my college experience has been the people who I have surrounded myself with. Find a best friend who you live with, go out with, spend most of your time with and still, if you randomly run into them in University Union, you can’t help but run into their arms and scream “KELLYYYYY!!!!” Find your Kelly.
As I write this, I’m getting ready to travel up to Binghamton to spend time in a musty, windowless basement to make a newspaper in the middle of a day, in the middle of the summer. Look for an activity that you would drive 2 1/2 hours on a Friday night for. Whether it be a sport, filmmaking, music or knitting, completely immerse yourself in it, and then seek out some more things you like to do and take part in those as well.
Find the people who have the same passions as you do, and make something awesome together. It’s an honor to stay cooped up in the University Union for 20 or more hours a week with the Pipe Dream staff, and I’m thankful for the feeling I get when I hold a freshly printed copy of this collective labor of love in my hands.
There are thousands of you incoming freshmen, and I’m one rising senior who lives off-campus. As a member of the school paper staff that reports on campus happenings, we might only cross paths if you do something really bad, or really good, so do something really good. Binghamton is what you make of it, so make it fun, worthwhile and proud. Do something amazing so we can finally stop using the same five people for our noteworthy alumni lists, I beg of you.
Last but not least, look out for each other. I have written about this before, but it’s so important I’ll write about it a million times more if I must. I remember one of my first nights of college, where I had the realization that nobody cared where I was and I had nobody to report to. With this power comes responsibility for us to watch out for our friends, for our acquaintances and even random strangers.
Don’t leave your wasted friend alone to go home with a girl or guy. Just don’t do it. Take them home, give them some water and make fun of them in the morning. Don’t be a bystander. It’s always better to ask someone else if they are OK, than to ask yourself why you didn’t help when you could have.
I’m running out of room, so I’m just going to list some things I wish I could add if I weren’t slowly encroaching on the word limit:
Enjoy the weather when it’s warm but make the best of the cold, check out the Food Co-op, go to basketball games, see what the greater city of Binghamton has to offer.
Go to First Friday art walks, dance like an idiot at parties, go to the nearby lake and Monday half-priced sushi in University Plaza (but remember, that bill adds up quickly). Go see the B-Mets, go see the Binghamton Senators, see campus theatre, see local theatre.
Take advantage of the 10,000 things to do here, many of which are either cheap or free. You can all go back to your awkward mingling now. Have fun Bearcats!