The thought of State Street conjures up a certain image. Like a fine painting, the image is subject to decay over time. For a painting, it might be cracks, fades and tears. For Binghamton’s Downtown hub, violence, drug use and debauchery are our ever-present decaying agents. And like any fine painting, it is in the students’ best interest that State Street’s image, a weekend mainstay for many, be preserved.
Beneath the damp pavement and the overcrowded pubs is a network of mutual understanding nightlife culture here in Binghamton that we ought not take for granted. Though not entirely unique, our bar scene is quite different from that of other schools. At many universities, strict local enforcement of drinking laws makes house parties the norm, but at Binghamton, the focal point of student nightlife is the small strip of road between Hawley and Court.
So, what about this network of mutual understanding? Let’s begin with the bars and their owners. They know that underage students are entering and drinking alcohol in their establishments. In fact, these are local businesses that depend on the BU student body. Think of where several of these bars — who don’t all cater to the adult crowd — would be without a student boom. Surely, not where they are now.
We know underage students get into bars regularly, employees know underage students get into bars regularly, so what about the police? They can’t be in the dark, can they?
Well, of course they aren’t, or the word “raid” wouldn’t be at the forefront of our vernacular. Naturally, we don’t like the unwelcome visits from the police regardless of our age, but understand that they come with the territory. Law enforcement knows the bars are letting in underage students, and in fact, take proactive and often necessary measures to ensure it never gets out of hand.
The fact is that the police work to make sure our bar scene is condensed, packed into a single, small strip of land where they are purveyors of the scene. They work to ensure that students aren’t wreaking havoc on the West Side of Binghamton, where student masses could be destructive and difficult to regulate and maintain.
Contrary to what we may believe, the police are there to ensure our safety. So long as we aren’t doing anything wrong, they aren’t out to get us. Think of the raids as the occasional check and balance on the bar scene — a way to keep closer tabs on students and bar owners.
The image of State Street doesn’t always paint the prettiest picture, but let’s do our best to keep it the way it is.