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By Mirder O. Crows

Controversy strikes Binghamton University again, as students are both outraged and elated from the latest announcement made by Vice President of Student Affairs Brian Rose today, on April 1st, 2021. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many students felt dissatisfied with the current university policy in regards to quarantine housing. Students have voiced a plethora of complaints: there is hardly any quarantine housing left, the dining hall for CIW has closed, and those already sick with COVID-19 are crammed into shared rooms for over ten days before they get better. However, the latest announcement by Vice President Rose seems to simultaneously ease these concerns as well as raise new ones: the nature preserve, a historic part of Binghamton University, will be cut down to make way for quarantine housing.

In a brief email sent to the student body, Rose starts off by noting the overall increase in COVID cases, stating that “…when I first emailed you all on March 3rd about the rise in positive tests, it was 40 to 50 students testing positive. Now, it’s 100 students a day. Seriously, are you guys even trying?”. Although Rose stressed that there was no one truly to blame for this sudden rise in COVID cases, he did provide one observation: “Damn it, Greek Life!”. It is still unclear which Greek Life organization Rose is referring to. Harkening back to the start of the academic year, Rose recalls a shared press conference with both President Harvey Stenger and Provost Donald Nieman, in which they collectively voiced their confidence in the student body. To this, Rose states, “You idiots are making us look bad! Stop going out and getting sick! We need to look somewhat credible to the public!”. It is after this point that Rose makes his controversial announcement: “To compensate for the increased cases of COVID-19 *cough* because of GREEK LIFE *cough*, the University has begun immediate construction of extra quarantine housing in place of the nature preserve.” He then signs off the email by writing, “I personally blame Greek Life.”

The construction of these new quarantine houses is already underway, with the University providing temporary housing via FEMA tents for sick students until construction is complete. The current plans for construction require that one third of the nature preserve be completely knocked over and replaced by several buildings. The construction company, Paving Paradise Co.,  has gone on record stating that although the historic site will be gone, they plan on naming the buildings created after things that were lost in the woods to honor the nature preserve. Current building name suggestions include Binghamton’s Dignity, Harvey’s Toupee, and Mothman. In addition to the new housing, the University also plans to build another dining hall using an additional one third of land. According to a spokesman for the University, this dining hall is meant to provide overpriced Sodexo food to starving residents, and is expected to open sooner than the Hinman dining hall. The remaining third of the nature preserve will be used to construct another new ice rink for students to skate in that literally no one asked for. Additional space will also be used to make additional parking space. When asked about this and why this was necessary, the spokesman responded, “We know no one asked for this—or wanted this—we just gotta spend the budget we were given without actually renovating stuff students actually need!”. 

Unsurprisingly, the reactions from the student body have been mixed. Many voiced their displeasure with the decision, arguing that such a site is essential to the student body. One student, upon being asked about why she disapproved of the decision, responded by saying, “Like, I don’t get why the administration has to make extra quarantine housing from the nature preserve. Now where am I supposed to smoke?” At the time of writing this, several environmental student groups have been protesting outside the construction site. Their current plans for stopping construction include chanting “If we don’t get it, SHUT IT DOWN!” and smoking weed.However, this reaction isn’t universal; other students have stated that the extra parking space would be beneficial to the student body. “I know it’d be a bummer to lose the nature preserve, but just think about it! Now we can smoke in our cars in the new parking lot, instead! Oh, and new quarantine housing is also kinda nice…”, said another student.

Construction has nonetheless been continuing as scheduled. However, some have now argued that the release of the vaccine from companies such as Pfizer and Moderna make these extra quarantine houses unnecessary. Some have even done as far as to say that the University’s handling of the pandemic has been unprofessional and unclear, even with the announcement of these construction plans. In a personal correspondence with Vice President Rose about this development, he responded by saying, “Look man, I’m just doing this to get back at Greek Life. I don’t care what students actually think!”. Construction of the extra quarantine housing is expected to be finished by the end of the semester.

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