Student Association: B-
The productivity of Student Association (SA) E-board members ranges greatly from one to the next when measured against the platform on which they were elected. Rebecca Ho, vice president for finance, for example, has accomplished multiple aspects of her platform, including streamlining the steps treasurers must complete to represent their clubs and modernizing the voucher process. In October, Joshua Gonzalez, vice president for multicultural affairs, and Raul Cepin, vice president for academic affairs, facilitated a well-attended town hall organized less than 12 hours after racist drawings were found in Endicott Hall.
In contrast, few of President Jermel McClure, Jr.’s campaign goals have been achieved. Last March, McClure said he’d work on having OCCT send text alerts regarding changes in service and update the bus company’s website. So far, neither has been done. Expanding the safe ride shuttle to Downtown was one of McClure’s ideas, but the expansion has yet to happen.
Student Congress, the SA’s legislative body, has passed just two bills this semester. While we’re not advocating for quantity over quality, policies passed by Student Congress are designed to improve the student experience at BU and the functioning of the SA as a whole. If policies aren’t being passed, and information on progress is not being communicated, how can we be sure this improvement is occurring?
The SAPB, headed by Libby Aliberti, vice president for programming, hosted several events this semester with mixed results. The body is responsible for a varied slate of programming, including the annual Family Weekend comedy show, the fall concert, Binghamton Underground Music Performance (BUMP) shows, speakers and other performers.
Attendance at the Family Weekend comedy show, headlined by Colin Quinn, was noticeably down from previous years. BUMP hosted only one show this semester, in contrast with the two or three shows it usually holds each semester. The SAPB also brought “Saturday Night Live” alumna Sasheer Zamata to campus, which was popular among students, but paled in comparison to the packed house at the Aidy Bryant performance last semester.
The SAPB’s biggest success this semester was undeniably the fall concert, headlined by Post Malone and opened by Dave East. Post Malone was booked at the height of his popularity, unlike previous performers who have come to campus at the beginning of their careers or after they’ve made it big. The week the concert was announced, Post Malone’s song “rockstar,” was No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The concert sold out, and despite fears about safety and crowd control, went off without a hitch.
Despite basketball’s Pack the House Day scheduled for the same day as SantaCon and men’s soccer turning in a beyond underwhelming season, the fall semester saw two playoff teams and both basketball programs experience early success.
Volleyball concluded its regular season with five straight America East (AE) victories, claimed the No. 2 seed in the tournament and advanced to the conference finals for the first time in five seasons. Junior outside hitter Gaby Alicea was the first player in Binghamton volleyball history to be named AE Player of the Year and the first BU athlete named AE Player of the Year in any sport since 2014.
Women’s soccer reached the AE Semifinals and earned a share of the conference regular season title for the first time since 2004. The spotlight fell on redshirt junior forward Kayla Saager, who posted 11 goals, 29 points and 54 shots on goal to lead the Bearcats to an impressive 11-4-4 record.
Men’s basketball secured its sixth straight victory on Saturday for the first time since the 2008-09 season, a campaign in which BU reached the NCAA Tournament. Junior forward Thomas Bruce has been performing exceedingly well in points, rebounds and blocks for head coach Tommy Dempsey. Women’s basketball has also earned quality victories in the 10 contests it has played in so far, including a 54-point win over Cortland and a statement-making victory against Penn. Senior forward Alyssa James is tied for No. 1 in the country in total blocks and blocks per game. We’re looking forward to the progress continuing.
Most of our interactions with the administration tended to be through its mass emails responding to occurrences both on and off campus. Its first email responding to the racist drawings found in Endicott Hall of Newing College in October garnered a lot of backlash, as the email stated, “Offensive graffiti that has been characterized as racist was reported …” The email’s vague language was not adequate in condemning the incident. However, when a second incident was reported in Onondaga Hall of College-in-the-Woods, the administration’s response was stronger and explicitly condemned the incident.
The second, stronger response came only as a result of backlash and the organization of a town hall meeting regarding the incident. The administration should always condemn acts of hatred from the start; students shouldn’t have to organize town hall meetings in order for the University to respond properly.
When a student was assaulted outside Twin River Commons in August, the University made no attempt to notify students. When one student stabbed another at The Rathskeller Pub four days later, a B-Line News Addition was sent nearly 20 hours after the fact. The B-Alert issued 3 1/2 hours after Friday’s campus robbery was the most prompt notification in recent memory, but an initial B-Alert could have been sent to warn students of possible danger. This is especially true since UPD learned a firearm may have been involved.
Furthermore, we haven’t heard much from the Town-Gown Advisory Board this semester. We’re hoping to hear more about their initiatives next semester, and we hope that the Board prioritizes transparency in sharing its plans in the wake of the protests in the Couper Administration Building last semester.
Overall, the University can do a better job of communicating with the student body.
University Counseling Center: B
While the University Counseling Center (UCC) has had some success in making improvements to Binghamton University’s mental health infrastructure this semester, it hasn’t gone nearly far enough. Earlier this semester, UCC began a partnership with ProtoCall, a provider of after-hours phone counseling. This was a response to a call for more on campus providers, after UCC’s model of service changed in the spring of 2016. But at the same time, students are still struggling with the limited resources available on this campus. Virtual counselors just can’t compensate for in-person therapy and we hope to see further improvements in the future.
Binghamton University Dining Services: A-
At the beginning of this semester, students were welcomed back to campus by new outposts of CopperTop Pizzeria and Dunkin’ Donuts in the Union. Later this semester, a milkshake and snacks shop called Sweets and Eats replaced the old Bearcat Café. Binghamton University Dining Services (BUDS) has done a satisfactory job this semester with the new additions, but not much else has happened, particularly in the dining halls. Despite the price gauging at Dunkin’ Donuts, which BUDS says it wasn’t involved with, students seem happy with the new options for pizza and coffee on campus. We’re not sure anyone asked for a milkshake station, but it doesn’t hurt, especially after the student-favorite The Diner departed after spring 2015.