Over the last 48 hours, a discussion about the character of the city of Binghamton has exploded over the social networks. Binghamton University Student Alyssa Mercante posted a personal opinion article in Binghamton University’s Pipe Dreams in which she berates the city of Binghamton from the tip of his high-country to the depths of its toughest streets. To be honest, I can’t say I’m a big fan of Binghamton either. However, after I read this article, I was quite irate at the injustice of her one-dimensional review of a city she has spent only a few years in at most. In response, I’d like to tackle a few of the issues that this inexperienced and naive 22-year old has with this local city.
First of all, within the first few paragraphs, we can begin to see that you, Alyssa, are one individual who would like to blame society and your surroundings for your own errors. I’m sorry, but disparaging a whole city because of your “drinking problem and few extra pounds” shows you have not only quite the nerve but also in actuality, no self-control.
I have grown up in this area; however, I went to college in Los Angeles County. I’d like to say that I had as much if not more access to the “downtown” atmosphere as well as to drugs and alcohol. However, I didn’t end college with a “drinking problem” on top of my four-year degree. In looking at your idea of blaming Binghamton for your issue with alcoholic beverages, I wonder if college was really the starting point for this problem. According to Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities (p. ii), “available evidence suggests that nearly two-thirds of college student drinkers began in high school and another eight percent began in junior high.” So, the question for you, Alyssa, would be whether your first few days in Binghamton found you drawn without reason to downtown bars and clubs or if you had entered that scene long before you entered this city. This same study researched 2000 students from over 400 universities (p.2) and found that a drinking problem amongst college students from around the country are on an increase as a whole. The issue is not Binghamton. The issue is college students.
Other research offers a list of the top 20 party schools in the United States—Gasp!! Binghamton University isn’t on it! Maybe you should have gone to the University of Georgia. After all, it’s the deep South, away from the “townfolk” of Binghamton’s Main Street area…oh wait, they’re number one on the list! So, stop blaming one city for your own issues.
Also, if you had done your research, you would see that this problem of weight-gain in people your age is not just found in Binghamton. Washington University did a study that showed that 70% of college students gain a significant amount of weight in those years of their life. So, strike one, Alyssa Mercante. Stop blaming a city for your own lack of self-control in the areas of drinking and eating.
You continue in your article to bash the bars of downtown Binghamton. You talk about leaving things you’ve dropped on the floor of The Rat, people having sex on a couch at Paradigm, and people yelling “things you can’t put into print” at you as you walk the streets. For someone who was raised near New York City, you’re awfully naive to the bar scene and ignorant of what happens when immature people combine with powerful substances and out-of-control hormones. No one dragged you to those places, and if you hated the place so much, you could have just left. Besides the years I’ve spent at college, I’ve grown up around Binghamton, and I’ve never run into all the situations you did…. but hey, maybe if I had, I would also be able to blame this city for my own inability to choose a hang-out location.
You criticize the freshmen for their lack of clothing on the cold nights (by the way…you were one of them once —“I have no idea how I wore less clothes as a freshman.”) you were “forced to trek Downtown.” I can see it now, all of you BU seniors, hands tied behind your back getting dragged to your death… I mean, Paradigm. Yeah right. You chose to go there and have simply become bitter about the party scene in which you have wasted the last four years of your life. I’m sorry you’ve found yourself thinking yourself more mature with your “worse hangovers” and self-recognized lack of patience, but that’s a personal not location-related problem. Strike two.
You’re probably forced to have a Facebook and Twitter account once you move into Binghamton, right? The people who live in the hills and “build fortresses to shield themselves in case the creatures north of Main Street decide to attack” probably require it so they can monitor your activity. Get a life, girl. If you’re not a fan of Facebook, there’s this button called “de-activate”, and I’m sorry, but the only people measure “coolness” by the number of Facebook friends are those who don’t have many friends in reality. What this whole anti-social media rage has to do with a city you’re bashing in this sorry excuse of an article, I have no idea. Strike three.
So, Alyssa, I’m sorry to say that your little article has absolutely zero clout. You can’t bash a city for your lack of an ability to handle and/or avoid alcoholic beverages and fatty foods nor can you blame them for your inability to choose both friends who avoid the bar/club scene or locations where you and your Long Island manicure won’t get tussled. No one forced you to the bars, to the dirty locations, and no one typed in your Facebook account password and called it mandatory. You chose those things, and I’m sorry to say that you chose incorrectly. Your school experience (noticeably absent from this “article” of yours) was probably fine as Binghamton University is known throughout the world as offering great quality education—for those there to learn what they’re paying to study. I’m sorry this little, classic town offered you no more than a place for you to run wild and realize all your own negative tendencies. Grow up and take some responsibility or else one day, your kids—yeah, those kids who you “would never send my kid to this school for fear of this place”- will find themselves following their mother’s example, wallowing in their own destructive habits and blaming society for their own stupidity.