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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Administration Looks Into the Future

    Looking towards the future was the focus of a town hall meeting held at the Charles B. Wang Center on the 12th of September, as President Shirley Strum Kenny introduced a draft of the third 5-Year Plan in Stony Brook University’s 50 year history.

    President Kenny described the first two Five Year Plans as ‘fix it’ plans and emphasized that today ‘ten years later, those things have been fixed’ and that this plan is focusing on ‘where it is we want to go next.’

    The plan, which like the first two plans was compiled by Emily Thomas, outlines 12 items, each dealing with a specific aspect of Stony Brook University.

    Attendees of the meeting were given the opportunity to ask questions about the draft, and there was considerable focus on issues of housing and parking on campus.

    According to Vice President of Student Affairs Peter Baigent, two new housing facilities are in the works. One, to be built in the West Apartment complex, will provide an additional 172 beds and is scheduled to open in August 2008. The second will be built in Roosevelt Quad and will provide about 600 beds. That building is slated to open in August 2009. The 5 Year Plan also mentions two more buildings, tentatively scheduled to open in 2010 and 2011.

    The prospect of new buildings does not alleviate the concerns of current students, who remain unconvinced that new buildings will fully solve the current issue of overcrowding in dorms. ‘It doesn’t sound like [the administration] is doing enough to alleviate the issue as it is already,’ said one freshman who lives in a tripled lounge that was converted into a room in H-Quad.

    And adding more fuel to the fire is the fact that enrollment is increasing simultaneously. Stony Brook officials are planning on ‘increasing enrollment from 22,500 students in 2006 to 27,000 [students]’ by the end of the Five Year Plan, which runs through 2012. Those numbers are a bit deceptive, as they include increases of both graduate students and undergraduate students at Southampton.

    There are also concerns over parking. Professors and students are concerned that abandoning a parking space during the middle of the day more often than not results in losing that space to other students or faculty. University officials acknowledge that this issue needs to be addressed, but are unsure how to do so. Paving new parking lots would result in the loss of valuable woodlands within campus boundaries, and building parking garages like the administration garage is an expensive ordeal; President Kenny estimates that the cost of building a garage would be about $18,000 per space.

    An interesting alternative was highlighted by Joan Dickinson, the Director of Marketing and Licensing. Item 10 of the Five Year Plan outlines a possible ‘campus center’ to act as a sort of college town to boost campus life. It would be built in a central location, says President Kenny, as a means to make it ‘accessible to all members of the Stony Brook community.’ The thought is that a Main St. type of area would not only improve student morale, but it would create less demand for students to venture off campus. The ‘downtown’ would house ‘a number of shops, restaurants, coffee houses, et cetera.,’ President Kenny said.

    Some other points that were raised in the meeting were creating an option to use meal plan points in select off-campus venues (which according to Vice President of Administration and Finance Karol Gray is being worked into a renegotiated contract with SBU’s food service provider Chartwells), making Stony Brook a more ‘green’ campus by highlighting recycling and adherence to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards on new construction projects, and talks of improving the student profile of Stony Brook’s typical undergraduate student while simultaneously maintaining a high level of diversity.

    All in all, the goals put forth in the draft of the Five Year Plan are promising to many people on campus. But even an administrator in attendance at the meeting expressed some doubts over the ability of Stony Brook University to meet all 12 goals in just five years. President Kenny assured everyone however, that the plan, once finalized, would be placed on ‘a five year matrix, in which we will decide what is expected each year on all of the objectives.’

    In the meantime, many students, especially those who are crammed into rooms meant for two, are wishing that campus officials spend at least one more year on a ‘fix it’ plan once again.

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