By Thomas Casey
Binghamton University, in what can only be the early onset of a midlife crisis, bought a castle in Broome County. From February 1864 to 1993, the castle served as the New York State Inebriate Asylum and the Binghamton Asylum for the Chronic Insane. Administrators everywhere are bracing for the inevitable onslaught of jokes like “Isn’t that BU campus crazy enough!” and “Well, now SUNY has two inebriate asylums near Binghamton, New York!” Seriously though, before buyer’s remorse hits hard, the administration has to decide what to do with its 85,000 foot impulse buy. New York State will award BU $12.5 million to renovate the landmark. The administration is sure to announce its plans soon. Here are some predictions:
Binghamton University School of Medicine
Prior to Binghamton’s purchase, the castle was owned by SUNY Upstate Medical. Upstate planned to transform the landmark into a satellite campus. Architectural plans and renovations were already underway. Upstate’s operations were derailed by the 2008 recession. The additional funds from New York State can go a long way in developing a competitive medical school. Binghamton’s School of Pharmacy is chugging towards completion. A complimentary medical school would round out Binghamton’s status as a headline research university. Also, a BU med school would finally shut up Stony Brook supporters. Their med school’s the only clout they cling to in the ultimate debate regarding the true premier public university in the Northeast.
A New Downtown Center
The current DCR largely services the College of Community and Public Affairs. Dedicated bus lines keep reliable service for the relatively small number of Binghamton students engaged at the college. The DRC’s a nice, well located oasis. It makes sense to have the college about community and the public located within the community and public of downtown Binghamton. The Binghamton Castle presents another similar opportunity. The Castle is an excellent host for the Decker School of Nursing. A similar bus system to the DCR could transport Decker students from campus to the Castle. The longstanding medical history and recent ownership of Upstate Medical render the Castle an excellent environment for Binghamton’s nursing program. Offshoring Decker frees up Academic B for other departments. Namely, the quickly growing School of Management could extend into its neighbor from Academic A.
A Spooky Haunted House
I can’t attest to deaths in the Binghamton Castle, but any edifice that carries the title “asylum” must have several specters lurking in the halls. A spooky haunted house would fulfill many university functions. Campus fraternities could incorporate the supernatural setting to test the willpower of its overconfident pledges. The Paranormal Student Association could conduct meetings. Admissions officers could consult the spirits about candidate selections. Also, Oneonta’s the only other SUNY with a haunted house, and they’ve been bragging about it for years. The even more terrifying Binghamton Castle would finally solidify BU as the spookiest public university in the Northeast.
An Inebriate Asylum
Harpur’s Ferry transported you six times last semester? You’re studying abroad in Happy Land. A fully functional inebriate asylum would significantly decrease the number of embarrassing drunk incidents on campus. Plus, the Decker students could practice electroshock therapy.
Whatever the administration chooses to do with the Binghamton Castle, the student body should be proud. BU took a big risk assuming control of a National Landmark. Every little bit of history and functionality the Binghamton Castle provides grows our status as a top university. I just hope the former asylum doesn’t steal too much of BU’s spotlight. I don’t want incoming students to think “being admitted” to Binghamton is a bad thing.