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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Outcry from Southampton Campus, Residence Halls to Close, Only Two Programs Remain on Campus

Students react to Stony Brook University's decision to close its Southampton campus' residence halls and remove and relocate many classes.

Daniel Doherty, who is from Chile, learned a new language, worked and took courses at another college in order to attend the Stony Brook Southampton campus.  But Doherty and more than 400 other students at the campus are now faced with some tough decisions about plans for next semester since much of their campus will be closed in the fall.

While it is usually all about,  “save the environment,” at the Southampton campus, it was more about save Stony Brook Southampton, on Wednesday. Over 250 emotional and frustrated students, faculty and staff gathered for a meeting with President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. after learning of drastic cuts to the university.

In the meeting Stanley explained that it costs two and a half times more to educate each student at the Southampton campus.  The cuts to the campus will save $6.7 million, annually.  According to a press release, an additional $1 million will be saved by closing one of the Manhattan  spaces.

“With so many millions of dollars slashed from our budget, we have to be extremely diligent and prudent, and not stray from the core elements of our missions of research and teaching,” President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said in a press release.  “Practically, this means we have to target programmatic reductions, eliminate those that are relatively expensive and impact a small number of students, and can be made in the framework of tenure and unionization constraints.”

An article from a local news website, which went viral on Facebook, revealed that the Southampton campus would cut its programs to just marine sciences and a masters in creative writing, in addition to closing all residence halls.  All of the other majors will be moved to west campus.  Stony Brook acquired the campus four years ago.

“They are taking away all the majors unique to this campus,” said Doherty, a sophomore and marine science major.

And while his major will still be offered at the Southampton campus, he thinks the ideas and values that the campus stands for will no longer exist.  Doherty also expressed concern about finding a place to live, since the residence halls will not remain open.

“At first I thought it was a joke,” said Gabrielle Anderson, a sophomore and environmental design, policy and planning major, who found out on Facebook.  “We were all a little freaked out.  This is my life.”

Heather Dune Macadamn, a full-time writing professor said she found out late Tuesday night when she received a phone call from a hysterical student.

“I was numb,” she said.  “I felt like I had been kicked in the gut.”

Later in the afternoon over 200 silent students, armed with signs protesting the decision, lined a path to Avram Theater and erupted in applause for Dean Mary Pearl who was moved to tears.  The dean said she was shocked by the news.

The tidal wave of students then followed Stanley into the building where he along with, Vice President for Student Affairs, Peter Baigent, Provost Eric Kaler and Vice President for Facilities and Services Barbara Chernow answered questions from students. While the students silently protested outside, inside emotions were brewing.

According to Stanley, they planned on telling the students in a meeting on Thursday, but were forced to officially announce the decision on Wednesday since the story leaked.   Throughout the meeting, he tried to reassure the students that they would be accommodated and given the necessary services to succeed.

“We looked very hard to see what we could do,” Stanley said.  “This was the best for Stony Brook as a whole.”

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who has disapproved the decision since he learned of it in a meeting with Stanley on Tuesday, said they do plan on fighting the decision.

“From a taxpayer point of view investing $78 million in capital improvements to the campus and then shutting it down is insanity,” he said.

In an email, Thiele explained a three-part plan to fight the decision: public pressure, provide legal commitment to the campus in the state budget and a taxpayer lawsuit to contest the wasting of a state asset.

Alexander Dimitriyadi, a senator for the Undergraduate Student Government said they fully support the students at Southampton.  He said a resolution has been filed against it, but things look bleak.

Juliann Navarra, a sophomore, environmental sustainability business major, gave a poignant plea in the packed auditorium.  Earlier in the day she expressed her dissatisfaction with the decision.

“This establishment is not just a satellite for Stony Brook. Its not only our college, its our lives,” she said in a shaky voice, barely able to get her words into a sentence.  “At main campus I am just a number.”

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