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INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY

University aids fire victims

When fire destroyed one building and heavily damaged another at the Riviera Ridge apartment complex in Vestal one week ago, about 65 Binghamton University students were evacuated from those and adjacent buildings.

Of those students, 34 will not be able to return to their apartments – 18 of them lived in Building G, which has been demolished, and 16 lived in Building H, which suffered enough damage to render it uninhabitable.

As the fire raged, University staff members arrived on the scene to offer whatever help they could, and those efforts have continued.

The morning after the fire, representatives from offices across campus met to brainstorm both needs and options for providing services to the displaced students. By 2 p.m. that day representatives from the American Red Cross joined University staff from the Office of Student Affairs, Off Campus College, Residential Life, Financial Aid, Campus Community Services, the Binghamton University Foundation, the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations, University Police and International Student and Scholar Services to answer questions and provide options to displaced students.

Initially, students were provided courtesy cards from Sodexho Campus Services to use at campus dining facilities and emergency loans were made available, as was transportation for anyone needing it.

Temporary or permanent on-campus housing was offered, with eight students taking advantage of it as of early this week.

In addition, word was sent out to academic offi ces requesting that faculty work with affected students who had lost books, computers and supplies. The bookstore offered a discount on supplies and delayed payments on replacement books.

Off Campus College began working with landlords and University Plaza to see what options were available, and counseling services were provided and will continue as needed.

Many of those affected are international students with no immediate recourse to replace lost items.

Ellen Badger, director of International Student and Scholar Services, has met with many of them to ask what they need.

“All the students I’ve seen know that the University really cares,” she said. “The response, starting with Thursday night, has been awesome.” Kenneth Holmes, assistant vice president for student life, has been coordinating the University’s assistance efforts.

“I’m always amazed and impressed by the outpouring of support that comes from the Binghamton community,” he said. “This is one of the few communities I’ve been a part of in my 18 years as an administrator where you get phone calls from people about wanting to help. It’s more than just caring, it’s the action behind the caring.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08