Administrators, students hold Campus Leaders ForumTweet
Leaders from all sectors of the University came together on Feb. 20 for a forum to discuss campus issues such as academics, safety, diversity and student life.
The “Campus Leaders Forum” took place in the Mandela Room and included President Harvey Stenger, five vice presidents (Donald Nieman, Bahgat Sammakia, Brian Rose, James Van Voorst, Marcia Craner) and Director of Athletics Patrick Elliot.
The student panelists were Men of Color Scholastic Society President Khasim Lockhart; Student Assembly Representative Samson Widerman; and three Student Association vice presidents: Eric Larson, Brianna Friia and Aaron Ricks.
The forum addressed questions that were submitted by undergraduate students.
“What makes a Binghamton degree special? I think it starts with outstanding faculty and terrific students,” Nieman said, addressing the question of what makes a degree from Binghamton stand out in a competitive job market.
“I think all of the degrees at Binghamton have a really strong grounding in the liberal arts,” he said. “What that does is give our students an education that has real perspective.”
As the forum continued on the subject of educational values, the panelists addressed the question of whether or not freshmen should be guided toward attaining degrees that are desirable during a period of economic recession.
“I think it would be shortsighted for us to take today’s current needs in the job markets and guide students toward them,” Stenger said. “We really want to guide you toward the next 50, 60, 80 years of your life. And no one knows what those job opportunities are going to be.”
Stenger stated that the objective of the University’s academic system is to teach students how to be critical thinkers and great communicators with the ability to constantly adapt to a changing environment.
Lockhart said that a major issue for freshmen is coming into college without knowing who they are or how to sell themselves.
“I think that instead of guiding them, we can implement a CDC course where they can learn how to build a résumé and how to present themselves for whatever field they decide to go into,” he said.
As the topic shifted to campus safety, the subject of school shootings was cited. The panelists addressed the question of the readiness to respond if such an incident were to occur on campus.
“The thought of an active shooter on campus is horrific,” Van Voorst said. “But what we need to do is plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
Van Voorst stressed that all University police officers have been trained to “respond quickly and accurately” if a shooting were to take place, and that communication is a key element.
“We have various communication links throughout the campus. The monitor boards are being controlled through the central office down in the police station,” he said.
The forum then focused on diversity. “This was an important topic during the Road Map process,” Stenger said. There was a team that was formed to talk about diversity inclusiveness.
“We decided that we are going to create an Office of Diversity and Inclusiveness,” he said. “The second idea that came out of that group was to create a set of diversity responsibilities and inclusiveness responsibilities within every department on campus.”
Stenger said that the administration can ensure diversity on campus by looking at hiring practices, admission practices, whether or not students are being recruited from all social and economic backgrounds, and by providing scholarships where necessary to try to improve the “mix” that is currently on campus.
“Diversity is just a number,” he said. “Inclusiveness of the campus, the way people interact, the multicultural aspects of the student clubs is a more difficult problem to solve.”
Widerman suggested a few ways that the University can cater to all groups of students.
“I do think it’s about time that Binghamton had an LGBT resource center,” Widerman said. “And I think the plans for the new globalization center could really help diversity as well.”
Lockhart said that as a community, there is too much effort in trying to be diverse.
“It sounds like it’s a burden to us, honestly. Everybody is talking about ‘we have to be diverse, we have to be diverse.’ But it has to be something that is natural,” Lockhart said.
“I think that we group ourselves, as fraternity members and non-fraternity members, E-board members and non-E-board members, general body members and so on. We are students here,” he said. “We have to look at ourselves as just students, and that’s the way that we’ll become diversified.”