Town Gown Advisory Board holds second meeting

The Binghamton University Town Gown Advisory Board (TGAB) recently held its second full-body meeting at the University Downtown Center, emphasizing the action-oriented purpose of the board and its five subcommittees: Safety, Transportation and Parking, Student Housing, Promoting Positive Community Engagement and Dangerous Drinking/Underage Drinking.

The TGAB, co-chaired by Randall Edouard, assistant vice president for student affairs, and Jared Kraham, Binghamton Deputy Mayor, is comprised of a wide coalition of students, community leaders, and local government officials.

“During these meetings, we can really develop concrete plans to take action,” Kraham said.

Each subcommittee reported on its activities:

  • Safety: Discussed information sharing between local police departments, collecting and sharing data on students living downtown and bus-loading issues on State Street. Members also presented the idea of extending student conduct authority off campus.

  • Transportation and Parking: Also addressed the downtown bus-loading issues, and suggested ideas for resolving both downtown and campus parking issues. In addition, the subcommittee discussed consulting with BC Transit and OCCT to improve service, specifically on Binghamton’s North Side where service is notoriously lacking, as well as educating the community on bicycle rules of the road and the Bike Share Program.

  • Promoting and Cultivating Positive Community Engagement: Discussed implementing a program that pairs Binghamton University students with Binghamton residents to share personal stories and visions in order to build meaningful relationships. Members also encouraged the TGAB to support a food co-op grocery store on Binghamton’s North Side, an area that is part of Binghamton’s “food desert.” In addition, members spoke about hiring a program coordinator through the Center for Civic Engagement to embolden more students to volunteer off campus.

“Students who volunteer in the community are more likely to remain in Binghamton after they graduate,” said Myra Sabir, Binghamton University assistant professor of human development and co-chair of the subcommittee.

  • Student Housing: Discussed holding additional information sessions on off-campus student housing and holding landlords more accountable, as well as safety concerns with off-campus living. The subcommittee proposed creating a student representative program where interns are trained by the city of Binghamton to assist students with off-campus housing and leasing. The subcommittee also suggested collecting data on off-campus student life and emphasized extending University responsibility for student conduct to those living off campus.

  • Dangerous Drinking/Underage Drinking: Discussed a number of issues it is working on, but nothing yet firm enough to take action.

“We like all these ideas, but now we want to move to the next step and formalize proposals,” said Edouard following the reports. “We’d like to see those by the next time we meet.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, time was given to hear public comment from community members and students.

The next TAGB meeting will be held in late April or early May. Until then, subcommittees will work to finalize their proposals.

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