Many students are looking forward to getting away this weekend, when Binghamton University officially goes on break from Friday to Tuesday, March 7. Yet some are not so happy about the upcoming five-day weekend and the subsequent closure of dorms and halting of university services. This is because Parade Day, the highly anticipated, city-wide celebration, falls on Saturday, and those who live on campus and wish to participate — unless they can crash at a friend’s house — are out of luck.
We understand why it’s in the best interest of the administration to limit student participation in Parade Day, especially for students under the age of 21. Although the University has claimed the timing is coincidental, Parade Day is the biggest drinking event of the semester for many students, which puts student safety and BU’s local image at risk. It makes sense to limit liability by preventing students, especially underage ones, from drinking publicly.
Nevertheless, student resentment over the timing this break is also well-founded. Binghamton has very few traditions that are as large-scale as Parade Day. No other event comes as close to connecting the community to the student body, for better or for worse. Students can look forward to Parade Day each year with regularity, even if most of them really only look forward to the drinking part of it.
While it’s understandable to want to limit this, detaching the student body from one of its only major traditions might not be the most effective way to mitigate harm. What if Parade Day were not just an excuse to binge drink, as many students would otherwise be doing, but also an event that actually brought students closer to their city?
It’s not uncommon to find universities that rally around community events, and more times than not, said events involve alcohol. But alcohol is rarely the end all be all for these events, and it doesn’t need to be for Parade Day weekend in Binghamton. On the Friday before Parade Day, students organizations and the Student Association could host large events or fundraisers in the evening. Barely anyone goes out that Friday, and therefore more students are available for a more sober activity.
Student organizations can also use the celebratory weekend to host in Downtown Binghamton. There are opportunities for community events or tabling for clubs, before or after actual Parade Day. Maybe it’s volunteering at a local elementary school on Friday or picking up littered recyclables around Downtown on Sunday.
Limiting student participation in Parade Day by scheduling a break passes up an opportunity to grow a day-drinking opportunity into a larger-scale tradition for the students and the community — one that involves a day of partying and parading, but also hinges on community events and philanthropy. While the break from classes is much-needed by many students, we’d like something constructive to do in the downtime, and Binghamton — and its parade — seems like a great place to start.