In an article published in the Sept. 17 issue of Pipe Dream, I learned that Binghamton University rose to No. 80 on the list of “Best National Universities” and No. 32 on the list of “Best Public Universities” in the 2019 rankings reported by the U.S. News and World Report. I was proud that BU was getting the recognition it deserves for being such an academically strong school. I was proud to be a Bearcat, so it immediately made me wonder why so few people are.
Though of course there are people who regard BU as their dream school, they are certainly less common than students who are thoroughly disgruntled to wear green and white. In a poll published on Niche.com, only 22 percent of students at BU answered positively to the statement, “I love everything about my school and have a lot of campus pride.” This number is egregiously lower than it should be.
During my freshman orientation four years ago, my orientation leader told me something that has stuck with me ever since: Most of the students here settled. They either applied to Ivy League schools and couldn’t get in, or they got in but couldn’t afford to go. Though this is a less-than-inspirational thing to hear before you’ve even moved into your College-in-the-Woods dorm room and realized you don’t have any overhead electricity, I believed her. I myself got into better schools but didn’t think it was worth selling a kidney on the dark web just to be able to pay the $60,000 tuition, so I became a Bearcat instead.
BU is a great school. Don’t believe me? Pull out your iPhone and do a quick google search of “best public universities in the United States.” I challenge you to find a list where our school does not appear. I tried — I couldn’t. They don’t call us “the public Ivy” for nothing.
I think part of the lack of pride at our university is because of the necessary inclusion of one particular word in that google search: “public.” Yes, BU is funded in part by the state of New York, so that it doesn’t need to rely on a group of private donors. This means two things: that some legacy child with a less-than-average SAT score whose parents funded the college’s third robotics lab doesn’t get to buy their way into the admissions process here, and that we’re not required to sleep on the streets just to be able to afford an on-campus meal plan. I’m OK with that.
Furthermore, the general stigma against SUNY schools themselves contributes to students’ lack of enthusiasm toward BU. The SUNY system is the largest grouping of colleges in the entire United States — in the fall semester of 2017, there was a total enrollment of 431,855 students. This means that the state of New York is giving over 400,000 people the opportunity to get a college education by charging reasonable, not heart attack-inducing tuition. The SUNY system is unlike any other postsecondary education system in the world and is inherently something to be proud of. And, since we’re the top school in the system, we should be nothing less than thrilled.
We all worked our asses off in high school, packing on the APs, staying hours after the last bell to cram in as many extracurriculars as possible and making personal relationships with our teachers to make sure they wrote us the best recommendations we could get. I’m here to tell you that it paid off. Even if BU wasn’t your first choice — it wasn’t mine — that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a fantastic school. Our university is an academic powerhouse that is finally beginning to get the recognition it merits. I’m proud to be a Bearcat — you should be, too.
Emily Houston is a senior double-majoring in political science and English.