You think by now we’d have gotten used to the gutting, hacking and restructuring of just about every indoor and outdoor facility on this campus. Since 2008 the Old University Union, Newing College, Dickinson Community, Jazzman’s Café in the Library Tower, the East Gym, Science I, the Chenango Room and the area surrounding what used to be the fountain have all undergone massive structural changes.
But all that might have been the calm before the storm. Next year, the New University Union Food Court and the Susquehanna Room are slated for an extreme makeover, rendering an important, always-bustling part of campus uninhabitable.
Simply put, the New Union is the epicenter of student life and entrepreneurship on our campus. Students come out in droves to eat, congregate, work and study. The building, specifically the Food Court and dining area, exemplifies what college student life should be: a student community that values social activity as much as it does individual academic success.
Not to mention the many SA groups who house offices in the New Union, such as Pipe Dream itself, who might suffer from the fractured building.
Moreover, the New Union provides off-campus students a conveniently and centrally located source of food at retail price. With a defunct food court, will there be a place for off-campus residents with meal plans to eat at affordable, retail prices without having to go to the resident dining halls on the outer regions of campus?
The University needs a Plan B. Sodexo spokesman Bob Griffin assured us that BU does have a contingency plan, but we remain wary. Will the roughly 60 full-time Sodexo employees who currently work the Food Court and Susquehanna Room be on a payroll next year? How close will the new Einstein Bagels and renovated Chenango Room come to providing adequate compensation for the loss of such a busy, highly trafficked part of campus?
All this isn’t to say we aren’t fans of progress. We’re sure the end result will be a vast improvement over a Food Court that is almost always overcrowded and is certainly limited in the way of healthier dining options. The New Union, like everything at this University, has its flaws.
But Binghamton University doesn’t seem to have an overarching plan, a vision of what they want campus to definitively look like. Whenever new money rolls in, money rolls out into construction project after construction project. Wasn’t the New Union built only 10 years ago?
After a certain period of time, for the sake of the current student body, the University should let campus marinate with all the new construction and let current students have a place they can call home, rather than an ever-changing portrait of cranes, gates and plywood.