“Honestly, after all this, I think I want to go to law school,” upcoming Stony Brook University sophomore Katie Osiecki said in this week’s front page story “Students SUNY Suit Succeeds.” The kind of courage Osiecki, her peers, and members of the Save the College organization displayed when filing a lawsuit against the state university is admirable; and we are glad to see Osiecki is not only undeterred but energized for a life of engagement and taking on “the big dogs.” No doubt the narrative of the university versus the students has played out like a David and Goliath tale. In providing a great education, the university also taught their students to question and critique. These young minds are employing this education by questioning, criticizing and taking action against the university for their brisk attitude in effectively shutting down their campus.
At best, this verdict proves the university is lousy at following procedures of law – like including their own council in a dismantling of much of their East End program, with the exception of the Marine Science and masters writing degrees. At worst, as Assemblyman Fred Thiele believes, the higher ups at Stony Brook University concocted this plan in a closed door fashion, making sweeping — and, to some, devastating changes — without a passing thought to their Southampton-based students. No matter which side of the coin you look, or however the situation is spun by their publicist, the ruling doesn’t bode well for Stony Brook University.
When analyzing the numbers we were shocked by the meager savings the univeristy’s proposed plan will effectuate — just $6.7 million. The state reportedly slashed the budget by $60 million over two years, which adds up to roughly twenty percent of their annual budget. The proposed savings appear paltry compared to the overall loss. We wonder if the university lost their will or strength to run an aggressive funding campaign. Don’t misunderstand, $60 million is a great deal of money but we think the community at large here — including those with deep pockets whom we call our neighbors — would embrace a school that actually reached out to the community and fulfilled a need.
The fall semester is fast approaching and it appears the Southampton campus’ doors will remain shuttered. In the meantime we hope local politicians will be able to come up with a solution to make the campus whole, and we, the community, will be waiting to welcome back this invaluable student body, who have no doubt become their own assets to the East End.