Improving SUNY Broome: Honors students propose solutions to campus problems

Students in SUNY Broome’s Honors Program presented their seminar projects on Dec. 6.

Students in SUNY Broome’s Honors Program presented their seminar projects on Dec. 6.

Should the Student Village have designated “quiet suites” for residential students looking for less noise in their environment? Does campus have enough gender-neutral bathrooms? Should the Digital Lounge & Commons be re-purposed? How can we best promote the campus’ intramural sports?

Students in SUNY Broome’s Honors Program tackled these questions and presented their results to campus officials at a Dec. 6 showcase. In their HON 170: Honors Seminar course, they were tasked with identifying a campus need and finding solutions to that need, along with research on whom to approach and which parties the problem affects.

“It was really a pleasure teaching the course this semester,” said Katie Bucci, the instructor for the seminar course and the college’s Outreach coordinator. “It reinvigorated my love for teaching in the classroom.”

The projects 

Honors students present on how to better advertise intramural sports.

Honors students present on how to better advertise intramural sports.

As a Student Village resident, Ashley Sisson was inspired to pursue the “quiet suites” project based on her own experience reporting a dispute that affected her suite. Quiet hours already exist in the residence hall, but there needs to be more enforcement, said Sisson, the only one of her research group to live in the Student Village.

Under the students’ proposed solution, “quiet suites” would require residents to have a grade point average of at least 3.2, reserving them for serious students. Residence directors would monitor the housing floor along with residence assistants, Honors student Nick Hayko explained. Another proposal: quiet suite residents could be required to participate in five service hours per semester.

honors students present on the need to add gender-neutral bathrooms to campus.

honors students present on the need to add gender-neutral bathrooms to campus.

Dean of Students Scott Schuhert listened attentively to the presentation, and posed some questions of the group. What if only 20 of the potential 24 slots in the quite suites are filled? What should happen to students who violate the rules, if there are no non-quiet suites to move them into?

“I love this,” Schuhert said after the presentation. “It’s something that’s certainly in discussion right now for this campus.”

The second student group explored the creation of a centralized student lounge, potentially in the Digital Lounge & Commons (DLC) space in Old Science, the basement of Titchener or the student lounge in Decker. Currently, many students use the lounge spaces in the buildings where they have classes, which can lead to segregation by major.

Honors students present on the need for a centralized student lounge.

Honors students present on the need for a centralized student lounge.

“We want to create a socializing environment open to all the students, accessible to all the students,” explained Honors student Stephie Safari.

The shared space also would serve as a clearinghouse for campus information, posting events and connecting students with clubs and academic services, student Zachary Allen explained.

While the DLC is usually packed with students, it’s a big space and could be repurposed, the students acknowledged. Schuhert and Student Activities Director Jason Boring listened attentively to this solution too, and planned to explore it.

Honors students present on the need for quiet suites in the residence hall.

Honors students present on the need for quiet suites in the residence hall.

Another group of students also tackled student life, looking how the campus can better advertise intramural sports. “They keep students in shape, lower stress, improve focus and have social benefits,” explained Ana Conceicao.

Also on the table: the addition of gender-neutral bathrooms. While such single-stall facilities already exist in Old Science, Natural Science and Student Services, they should ideally exist in all campus buildings, the students argued.

Not only would they serve transgender or non-binary students, but they could also serve as family bathrooms. Honors student Meg Rossie remembered seeing a father with his young daughter on campus; the child was too young to go to the ladies’ room by herself, and the father felt uncomfortable taking her to the men’s room.

“Our purpose is to accommodate everyone who wants to attend college,” Rossie said.

Campus Facilities Director David Ligeikis noted that gender-neutral, or family, bathrooms are planned for the new Calice Advanced Manufacturing Center on campus and the future Culinary Arts Center in downtown Binghamton.