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Increased Enrollment Helps Bring Sustainability to Southampton

Stony Brook’s Southampton campus has doubled their enrollment for the Fall 2009 semester, going from 271 undergraduates admitted in 2008 to admitting 416 now. The 82-acre campus, which opened up in 1963 as part of Long Island University, is growing at a fast pace, attracting students from all over the country.

‘We see ourselves having 1,000 students in the next few years,’ Matthew Whelan, who works in Enrollment Management at the university, said.

Recruiters who work for the campus travel all over the country to attract high caliber students, who have an interest in an array of environmental fields — the main focus of Southampton. The school also holds regular open house days and sends information to students who show interest in the environmental fields. This, and other factors, have led to increased enrollment from in-state and out of state students.

Lilia Kolbert, a freshman majoring in environmental studies, chose the Southampton campus because of its strong focus on the environment. ‘What Stony Brook Southampton offers me, that other campuses could not, is total focus on what I am majoring in,’ Kolbert said. ‘All of my classes curriculum’s work together. It’s clear that they are working on connecting the classes to better understand the concepts of your major.’

For students who have been here past years, there is a noticeable difference in the liveliness of the campus. The library and game room are more crowded, the cafeteria is busier, and more people are out and about when walking to class.

‘The difference between last semester and this semester’s enrollment is astounding. I don’t recognize half the people,’ Jenn Kuettner, a junior majoring in environmental policy, planning and design, said.

While Kuettner doesn’t live on campus, she says the enrollment increase will ultimately benefit the university. The campus needs to grow to receive enough funding and reach its full potential, Kuettner said.

Not everybody agrees with Kuettner, though. Some see both sides of the argument about the increased enrollment. A sophomore majoring in Environmental Studies, who doesn’t want to be identified for personal reasons, says that there is a noticeable increase in the student population. ‘You actually see people walking around campus now, and the dorms have a lot more students in them,’ the student said.

The student believes that the reason behind the increase is due to the fact that sustainable and green living has become ‘increasingly exploited,’ which gives people reasons to find ways to fix it. The increases have both benefited and harmed the campus, the student said. While an increase gives students more opportunities to create intramural sports and clubs,the student believes that the campus is not ready for enrollment increases. Limited parking,overcrowded dorms and a strained cafeteria staff are reasons behind the students’ opinion.

‘They often times don’t make enough food, and if you have a meat dish, you can’t get the vegan option as well,’ the student said. ‘The large increase in freshman has caused some social distress around campus.’

Bryan Cushing, a sophomore majoring in environmental design, policy and planning, just transferred to the Southampton campus because of his major and the small town feel of the campus. In Cushings opinion, the campus should remain small, because he doesn’t believe the campus will be able to function as a sustainable school if it becomes too large.

‘It’s so small now, and I don’t even think this place is halfway where it should be, so growing in numbers could push things back,’ Cushing said

Whelan said that the Southampton campus is only planning on having a total enrollment of 2,000 students, tops. This limit is to make sure that the campus keeps its small-town feel and its small classes.

Over the next few years, the Southampton campus will grow, gaining more students and resources related to its field. As it expands, the administration will garner resources needed for a fast paced expansion.

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