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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Southampton to Stanley, “Sustain Our School”

Southampton transfer students protested on Wednesday to show they weren’t giving up on the fight to get their school back.

Students shouted phrases such as,“If I broke the law, I’d lose my job,” and “Sustain Our School” in front of the Administration building during campus lifetime while holding multicolored oaktag posters painted with a slew of slogans.  The goal: make sure Stony Brook University knows they want to go back to the 82-acre campus in Southampton.

“Our goal is to return the Southampton kids to Southampton as soon as possible,” said New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (R-Sag Harbor), who had a crowd of supporters around him clapping. Thiele has been fighting alongside the students since the university announced the campus would be closing residence halls and relocating academic programs to the west campus in April.

According to Thiele, the fight was never about the budget, and  he thinks the state can find a way to come up with the $6.5 million, which the university is saving by the campus closures. “There’s no reason to rubberstamp this decision,” he said.

The other goal was to raise awareness for the University Council meeting to be held on Monday.

“The council was left out of the loop,” Thiele said. “No one knew what was going on in the president’s office.”

However, Lauren Sheprow, director of media relations at the university, said President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. did consult the council on May 11 about his intentions to relocate a number of academic programs and the impact on residential operations at Southampton.

Regardless, on Aug. 27, New York State Supreme Court Justice Paul J. Baisley, Jr. ruled in favor of the six students who sued Stony Brook University for closing the Southampton campus without the approval of the University Council.

Meanwhile, students are worrying about what will happen to their future and their classes at Stony Brook.

“Not a student has not worried about being kicked out,” said Kathleen Furey, a Southampton student studying environmental humanity, planning and design.

Students are concerned that their classes may not be offered again and that graduation will not come on time. When the decision was first announced, Sheprow assured that the administration was doing all they could to have students transition well.

But for other students, adjusting is just not easily done.

“It’s a lot harder this semester,” said sophomore Elliott Kurtz, adding that classes are a problem for him. He said his professors are all nice, but not as inviting to chats like in Southampton. “It’s inevitable to talk in SBS.”

In fact, he said, one of his professors back at SBS knew how much he liked folk music and told him about an event showcasing the genre, even offering a ride.

“I’m probably going to stay here, but I may transfer,” he said, adding that his major, marine science, is not offered in many schools.

While some Southampton students have transitioned to west campus, others are still longing to be back on their sustainability-supported campus, where classes were sometimes taught on the lawns and professors knew everyone’s name.

“We’re caught and we can’t look to anyone for more answers,” said senior Anjelica Whitehorne, who was originally a student at

Stony Brook and then transferred to Southampton in the summer of 2008. “Some Southampton students have found their niche here but just because one or a few SBS students have doesn’t mean we’re all settled in and we’re going to stop fighting.”

She and junior Kenny Zhu, who also transferred from west campus to SBS, want their degrees to say Stony Brook Southampton.

“It’s our school,” they agreed.

Southampton supporters hope that the University Council will address the situation during the meeting. The decision, or even the fact that they may be on the agenda, is not definite.

“If the council were to say no, we’d look at all legal legislation,” Thiele said.

This meeting could be the discussion that makes or breaks Southampton’s potential of being brought back as a Stony Brook University campus.

“I definitely think if there’d been open dialogue, it’d have been better,” said Whitehorne.

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