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Stony Brook University Council Stands By Stanley

The Stony Brook University Council stood by President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.’s decision to close Southampton’s residence halls and relocate undergraduate academic programs to the West Campus on Monday.

The decision was the result of a council meeting that started at 9 a.m. before an audience of professors, administrators and students of both campuses, along with New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who has been actively rallying with the Southampton students.

There was, “a real sense of loss and even anger, but at the end we felt we had to be fiscally responsible,” Stanley said of the decision he made in April, which caused an uproar from Southampton students and faculty. “With all the things in mind, it felt like it was the right decision.”

The council’s decision came after Supreme Court Justice Paul J. Baisley, Jr. ruled in favor of the six students who sued the university for illegally going about the process of relocating the campus. The decision stated closing the campus without the council’s approval violated New York State law. But according to the council, Stanley discussed his decision during the May 11 meeting.

“Fiscal times are tough,”  said Kevin Law, chair of the council.  “Times require tough decisions and leadership.”

John Botos, the former undergraduate president of Southampton, spoke in front of the council earlier that morning, in response to Undergraduate Student Government, President and Stony Brook University council member Matthew Graham’s statement.

“The decision to close the undergraduate portion is in the best interest of the SBU community,” said Graham, who was originally in favor of the Southampton students’ position back in April, before looking into the research the council did. He changed his mind and realized he “can’t support a decision which wouldn’t be sound for the other 25,000 members of the undergraduates.”

Southampton students, led by Botos, did not agree.

“We did not vote for you, they voted for me,” Botos said to Graham, in between his three-minute statement to the council.

The council looked over prospects of the currently campus in Southampton. So far, plans being considered include creating a campus for the arts, which can link to the satellite campus in Manhattan, enhancing the marine science aspect of the building, which would include the marine station renovation with its ocean access, a program called “A Semester at the Sea” and a marine vertebrate biology program that is unique to the nation, and continuing the professional education to meet the community’s needs in health sciences and cultural events.

“I’ve really lost faith in the council and president,” Botos said.  But the for him and many of the students at the meeting the fight is still not over.

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  • S

    Save SouthamptonNov 19, 2010 at 9:26 am

    As President of the Undergraduate Student Government, Matthew Graham, had a responsibility to the students of both Southampton and Stony Brook to follow the USG SENATE RESOLUTION CONDEMNING THE DECISION TO CLOSE STONY BROOK SOUTHAMPTON that was written on April 13, 2010. It appears that the Administration “got to him,” and when he voted as a member of the Stony Brook Council, he disregarded and disrespected this USG Senate Resolution.

    This is the resolution:

    SENATE RESOLUTION CONDEMNING THE DECISION TO CLOSE STONY BROOK SOUTHAMPTON

    Whereas, the Stony Brook University community extends far beyond the physical confines of West Campus, including Stony Brook Southampton, East Campus and Stony Brook Manhattan;

    Whereas, Stony Brook Southampton is a distinctly different entity from each of the other components of Stony Brook University, is a unique campus community in and of itself, and is a vital part of Stony Brook;

    Whereas, over 400 undergraduates consider Stony Brook Southampton their academic home, it is unfair and unjust to force these students to abandon their educational niches so suddenly and immediately, and the decision to curtail operations there displays incredible nearsightedness and poor decision-making by the University administration;

    Whereas, the educational opportunities offered at Stony Brook Southampton are unique not only to the Stony Brook community, but to the larger academic world, thus it is impossible for students to change schools and maintain their academic interests, and the administration’s current course of action is unkind and cruel to the students of Stony Brook Southampton;

    Whereas, even if it were possible for now-displaced students to find new, fitting academic locales,
    the immediacy of this action callously prevents students from transferring;

    Whereas, West Campus already faces housing and class shortages, and is absorbing $27 million in
    budget cuts, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for West Campus to incorporate over 400 unexpected students in addition to the incoming freshman class and transfer students;

    Whereas Stony Brook Southampton is an integral part of its surrounding community, providing jobs and stimulating the local economy; and

    Whereas a considerable amount of time, on the parts of student leaders, and money – over $78 million dollars – on the part of the University, have already been invested in growing and beautifying the campus and turning it into a thriving academic community since its acquisition;

    Resolved, by the Senate of the Undergraduate Student Government –

    (1) That as the Stony Brook Southampton students, academic programs and campus are important
    to the Stony Brook community, the decision to curtail the undergraduate program at Stony Brook
    Southampton was the wrong decision;

    (2) That the government of New York State must increase its funding for Stony Brook University to
    an appropriate level, which would adequately allow for the continuation of academic programs; and

    (3) That the decision to curtail operations at Stony Brook Southampton shall be rescinded, and the
    academic and residential programs shall continue.

    Respectfully submitted to and passed by the Stony Brook Undergraduate Student Government Senate on this 13th day of April, 2010.

    http://groups.google.com/a/stonybrookusg.org/group/press/browse_thread/thread/ac0abca90404ec0b#

    Note: Download pdf file, this resolution is on pg 3

    There is no evidence on the USG website that USG repealed that resolution prior to the October 4, 2010 Stony Brook Council meeting. In that case, Matthew Graham pulled the same thing that drew criticism about how President Stanley handled this situation. As the USG President, Matthew Graham, is mirroring the President of the university by also making a unilateral decision and voting to support Stanley’s decision even though the USG Senate condemned it.

    In a USG Press Release dated April 28, 2010 USG writes:

    Stony Brook University only receives about 23% of its operating budget from the state, making any cuts detrimental to its status as a public institution. Every drop in funding begets drastic cuts to programs, and necessitates alternative funding sources such as private contributions to make up for the losses. Even prior to these most recent cuts, Stony Brook had endured roughly $55 million in funding decreases since the 2008-09 year.As a result, the university has unwillingly implemented a hiring freeze and
    made layoffs in addition to other “creative cost-saving strategies.”

    USG understands this necessity, but the Senate feels that the Administration has gone too far with its decision to close Southampton and rip 500 undergraduates away from their school of choice without any warning. The USG supports its constituents in Southampton, who are all voting members of the USG, and the Executive Council has allocated $10,000 for them to take a trip to Albany and lobby their representatives. Stony Brook has already invested $78 million dollars of taxpayer money into the campus since its acquisition in 2006 including a new library just this year. If the administration was thinking about closing the campus, the projects should have been put on hold. This oversight has led to an irresponsible waste of assets.

    “The USG supports its constituents in Southampton, who are all voting members of the USG.”

    When both Matthew Graham (the current president for USG), and Jasper Wilson (the former USG President), spoke at the Oct.4th Council meeting; they did not support “their constituents in Southampton,who are all voting members of the USG.”

    Instead of building bridges, both USG Presidents put up a wall!

    This was not USG’s finest moment and it appears that the students need stronger leadership!

    Reply
  • S

    Southampton ParentOct 4, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    On November 2, 2009, at the University Senate meeting, Dr.Stanley is recorded in the minutes as saying that the budget cut from the state to alll the SUNY campuses, was estimated at 70 million, and that Stony Brook’s allocation was 8-10 million. However, they also noted that the SUNY had a separate budget allocation for the Southampton campus of 7.4 million dollars in support.
    See this link:
    http://www.stonybrook.edu/univsenate/minutes2009Nov02.shtml

    One has to wonder if Stony Brook simply gutted the undergraduate program at Southampton to make up for the projected budget cuts, from NY State. 800 students were enrolled for the fall semester, at the Southampton campus, according to the latest judicial ruling, declaring Dr. Stanley’s decision to close the residential undergraduate program, as illegal.

    Dr. Stanley’s statement about all of the majors from Southampton, transferring to the Stony Brook campus, was false. My daughter’s major was a BS in Business Management with a Specialization in Sustainable Business. It was not a minor, and it did not transfer to the main campus. We find it educationally criminal, that Dr. Stanley would illegally, and callously, destroy this major, as well as other majors from the Southampton campus, one month, before final exams in the spring.

    My daughter refused to transfer to the Stony Brook campus. How could she ever trust her education’s future to Dr. Stanley, when what he puts in the media is the opposite of what he implements, as a university president.

    Reply