The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

71° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

Newsletter

SBU clubs strive to preserve club spaces amidst CLC’s eviction notices

LGBT+ Alliance’s club room space located in room 309 of the Student Activities Center. The club that is supposed to serve as the campus’ safe space for LGBTQ+ members was informed they would have to vacate their space by May 15, along with many other clubs. PHOTO COURTESY OF THOREN GIANNUZZI

Growing whispers of eviction echo across the campus community, leaving clubs like the Science Fiction Forum, Pocket Theater, LGBT+ Alliance, Animated Perspectives, Smash Bros. at SBU, Stony Brook Gospel Choir and Commuter Student Association reeling with frustration. As of May 1, the Campus Life Centers (CLC), described as “a place where Seawolves engage and memories are made,” have decided to evict at least seven clubs from their club spaces by the next academic year.

A cozy set of bean bag chairs and a couch sits in room 309 in the Student Activities Center (SAC) — LGBT+ Alliance’s space. The club, which serves as the campus’ community of queer, questioning and ally students, aims to create a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community. On April 12, LGBT+ Alliance was informed that they would have to vacate their club space by May 15. However, they weren’t the only club to receive this notice in their inbox.

In an email to The Statesman, President of LGBT+ Alliance Thoren Giannuzzi, a junior chemical and molecular engineering major, wrote that affected clubs met with CLC on Thursday, April 25, to discuss their current relocation situation. However, Giannuzzi revealed that “they refused to give more answers and said they would need to have individual meetings with all the organizations.”

Giannuzzi stated that these meetings were originally scheduled for the week of April 29 but were rescheduled to the middle of finals week, a time when many executive board members of these clubs were unavailable.

Additionally, Giannuzzi shared a detailed letter with the Office of the President, outlining the implications of the campus community losing these club spaces. Giannuzzi also included a personal letter, along with statements from 33 students expressing their feelings about the situation.

“Being the only ‘third location’ space on campus that I truly feel safe to express myself, the LGBTA Club Room has been my safe space for two years now,” one student wrote. All student statements were written anonymously. “To take it away, let alone to do so without warning, reason, accommodation, or assured replacement, is to deprive myself and dozens of other queer students of their safety and well-being, and it goes against all of the diversity and inclusion principles this institution supposedly stands by.”

In an interview with The Statesman, Divine Charles, president of Animated Perspectives and a senior psychology major, discussed the concerning communication issues between the club and CLC before the latter’s decision for Animated Perspectives to vacate their space in room 018B in SAC. Charles found this instance surprising because, up to that point, Animated Perspectives had not experienced any negative outcomes or communication with CLC.

Charles shared that in the initial email sent on April 12 that the clubs were informed of eviction, they were notified to check out their club rooms and submit office space requests, which was then followed by restrictions on bringing in furniture and posters to club rooms.

“They have offered no summer storage or even help moving. They also offered no guarantee of even having storage space next semester,” he said. “Half of our board has disabilities and cannot physically move most of the items in our office.”

The proposed solutions, such as the rotation system for club spaces and storage, raises concerns for club organizers like Charles regarding the practicality and potential damage to expensive equipment. According to Giannuzzi, the expected space will be “small and limited,” featuring one desk, one chair and a filing cabinet; but, he emphasized that this space “is not even large enough to fit the core board members.”

Many of the affected clubs expressed that these alternative solutions are not feasible and do not fully address their concerns.

The University’s Science Fiction Forum is a free lending library of science fiction, fantasy and horror located in rooms L06-08 and L06-09 in the Stony Brook Union. The forum offers more than 3,000 books to all students. However, in an interview with The Statesman via Instagram direct messages, club President Samuel Haviland, a senior biology major, said “there’s simply no way we can function as a library, so many books would never see the light of day again.” The forum was told they would lose their club room by the end of the following academic year.

In an Instagram direct messages interview with The Statesman, Izzy Giacoio, the secretary and newly-elected vice president of Smash Bros. at SBU and a junior chemistry major, shared that she has heard countless stories about how Smash Bros. at SBU has been a “welcoming and kind” organization to be a part of, bringing people together by “[making] life-long friendships and help[ing] people feel less lonely on campus when they were initially anxious and more introverted.”

Still, the timeline for the eviction of these clubs is essentially the same. Charles said there was an expectation that Animated Perspectives would vacate their space by May 17, which is the same date as commencement. He commented on the timing of this decision, especially with finals approaching and graduation imminent, adding an extra layer of stress and difficulty. However, many clubs, including LGBT+ Alliance and Smash Bros. at SBU, aren’t guaranteed a solution next semester.

“Our club room is like a second home. It’s a place to hangout, meet new people, and play games within a safe and welcoming community,” Haviland said. “The removal of our club space in one year is the destruction of one of the few always open and active communities on campus. The forum offers an open place for people to bond over shared interests and hobbies, something only us and the other on campus leisure clubs are able to offer.”

Giacoio expressed her frustration with the decision. Smash Bros. at SBU frequently works alongside Animated Perspectives, with the former storing their equipment in the latter’s room in the SAC basement. The clubs’ partnership began long before most of the current executive board members attended the University. 

“[There was] no real reason for displacing them AND only giving AP/Smash and LGBTA less than a month’s notice to move out is a blatant display of a lack of respect for student organizations and the students who run them,” Giacoio wrote.

With just days until Animated Perspectives’ eviction and the conclusion of the spring semester, a petition was organized and presented to University administration in response to CLC’s decision.

“We are hurt by CLC’s actions and refusal to listen to not only clubs and [Undergraduate Student Government] USG, but the student body of which over 1000 people have signed our petition to fight this decision,” Giannuzzi wrote. “We are concerned over the future of campus life and worry about if our organizations will even be able to survive this change as much of our success is linked to having spaces.”

Aside from the 1,000 signatures on the petition, Charles said that the impact of the eviction notices are clear. He added that Animated Perspectives’ space is not simply used by individual clubs, and its influence extends throughout the campus community.

“From what I’ve gathered, not many people actually knew that was happening,” he said. “So I think, at least in terms of a general impact afterward, there’s been a lot more people asking questions and a lot more people being confused.”

In an email to The Statesman, Stony Brook officials commented on the finite space designed for clubs through storage or office space, stating that “there are over 400 recognized student clubs and organizations here at Stony Brook University.” According to Stony Brook officials, student clubs and organizations must reapply for space, regardless of whether they will even be guaranteed a space to gather for future semesters.

“The spaces currently utilized by [these clubs] are being reimagined to meet the expanding needs of our Stony Brook community,” Stony Brook officials said. “The Office of Student Life is working closely with these clubs to discuss their specific needs in an effort to minimize negative impacts to their operations, including finding suitable space for any equipment, books, magazines, and other items currently stored in these spaces.”

Giannuzzi said that LGBT+ Alliance’s room in particular will be “renovated and turned into another SAC meeting room or private office space.”

As voices rise in protest through petitions and pleas, students are rallying to preserve the welcoming spaces of these clubs. Yet, with many clubs having nowhere to go, questions about future plans amidst uncertainty rings true.

“Taking away this club room will absolutely kill our organization, and I mean with complete sincerity,” Giacoio wrote. “Overall, the decision to remove organizations from their rooms will only be a detriment to campus life and the many students who have found a community to belong to.”

Amidst the chaos and anxiety that comes with CLC’s decision, many are left to wonder: where will they go?

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Statesman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Clare Gehlich
Clare Gehlich, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor
Clare is the Assistant Arts and Culture Editor for The Statesman and a senior journalism major with a minor in political science. Since transferring to Stony Brook University in 2022, she has written for both Herald Community Newspapers and WSHU Public Radio.
Donate to The Statesman

Comments (0)

All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *