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Southampton Campus Students File Suit Against Stony Brook

Posted on 30 May 2010

By Andrew Rudansky

Students at Stony Brook Southampton College have filed suit against the SUNY Stony Brook University in response to the university’s decision to close the Stony Brook Southampton campus.  The suit, officially filed on Monday, May 24, accuses Samuel Stanley Jr., President of SBU, and the board of trustees at the university of, among other things, closing the Southampton campus down without first going to the Stony Brook Council for approval, as is required by the State Education Law.

The lawsuit is asking the courts to prevent Stanley and SBU from closing the Southampton campus. The main petitioners in the suit are Stony Brook Southampton students and the not-for-profit corporation Save the College at Southampton, Inc., “Save the College” was first created when Long Island University planned to close the school down, and before SBU purchased the campus in 2004.

The students have hired the Melville based law firm of Lazer, Aptherker, Rosella & Yedid, P.C. to take their case against Stanley and SBU. The students held demonstrations, marches and a series of grassroots student fundraisers to raise the over $18,000  in legal fees. 

The school officially announced its intentions to close down most of the campus by August 31 of this year, shuttering the residence halls and closing all but two of the academic buildings: Chancellors Hall and the Marine Sciences Research Center Complex.

The enrollment for the Spring 2009 term was approximately 500 students, and before the decision came down to close the campus Southampton accepted approximately 800 students for the Fall 2010 semester. Most of these students will be transferred to the SBU main campus in Stony Brook.

According to the court documents filed by the student’s lawyers, “SBU and the SUNY Trustees announced the decision to close Southampton without any notice to petitioners, the student body or faculty.” The court documents further claim that the school made the decision to close the school in secret to escape scrutiny from students, the press and the public. Most inflammatory of the accusations in the suit is the claim that President Stanley is closing the Southampton campus in order to sell off the “residentially zoned campus land to real estate developers in order to generate funds for SBU.”

Lauren M. Sheprow, from the Office of Media Relations at Stony Brook University refused to comment on any aspect of the pending lawsuit. Sheprow said, “The  court filings are under review and will be responded to appropriately in court.” 

Stony Brook Southampton Sophomore Katie Osiecki has helped spearhead

the lawsuit against the school. “I do think this is a credible lawsuit,” said Osiecki, “[President Stanley and Stony Brook University] did everything wrong.” Osiecki says that many members of the student body are angry how the SBU administration handled the situation. Osiecki has plans to attend school at the SBU main campus next fall, but also says that she might drop out.

Upon hearing the news of the lawsuit, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. sent out a  press release which categorically stated, “I support the students in this lawsuit.”

Stony Brook University has until June 14 to answer the allegations before the State Supreme Court.



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8 Responses to “Southampton Campus Students File Suit Against Stony Brook”

  1. mit says:

    Why do students still want southamptons…? Can’t they just go to SBU?

  2. John smith says:

    Students want a $30,000 education (small class sizes etc.) and not the $12,000 education that they will get at the main campus. Of course the $30,000 education comes at the expense of main campus students but why should the Southampton students care?

  3. Paul Angeloni says:

    Make no mistake — Stony Brook University will put something totally obnoxious and environmentally unfriendly at that campus. Stony Brook is quick to rile neighbors up on the North Shore by pressing ahead with plans for super-hotels and such. How much would a super-hotel make in the Hamptons?

    Stanley has kept saying he wants to make a “profit” at the Southampton site (why should a public institution aim for profit, anyway?).

    But having a school with 800 environmental advocates would definitely get in the way of that.

    So, step one, get rid of the environmental students.

    The MFA/Writing students can stay — they are mostly 50-something housewives who think they can write the next great children’s book. They won’t complain about a super-hotel.

    But do understand that Stony Brook has serious plans for the campus that benefit Stony Brook and not the Hamptons.

  4. anna says:

    To anyone who is asking why do the students still want their small, rural, environmental specialty college at Southampton & why not just go to the over-crowded science & research-focused Stony Brook main campus, you should understand that is comparing apples & oranges. These students were sold Southampton’s unique college programs, its specialty mission of environmental sustainability, & the small, fully integrated ‘green’ campus, not to mention the location that expanded their studies with environmental opportunities outside the classroom. This college is one-of-a-kind in NY and only 1 of very few in the nation with such a special mission & programs. Those were the things that these students were sold, bought & signed on for – none of those things are available at Stony Brook or anyplace else in SUNY for that matter.

  5. tara says:

    john smith makes no sense with his statement about the cost of the education. That is such a twisted misrepresentation. The education costs the same. The only difference is the number of people that cost is divided by on each campus. If the education costs $100 in total and there are only 10 students at one campus, $10 would be spent on each one. But if there are 50 students at the other campus, only $2 is spent on each one. One is not getting a more expensive education than the other. It still would all cost the same $100 no matter which campus youre talking about. In this case, Southampton will have 800 students this fall. Stony Brook will have about 20,000.

  6. Marianne Klepacki says:

    Not all the majors are available at the main campus. There will be no Enviromental Coastal Waterways major offered. So students who have studied this for 3 years, have been asked to change their majors. Can you imagine studying your major for 3 years and being told, sorry, we are not offering this anymore, choose another major? Its like bait and switch, in consumer terms. You promised to provide me with A education and now you want me to switch to B, C, or D!

    If this campus is not saved, these students will be given “substiute” classes to finish their senior year. SUNY can grant waives. Stony Brook will not provide all the classes or the same environment to support the sustainability majors. After all, the way they will be saving money is by not renewing the contracts of the current staff.

    This in not about money. After Thiele and LaValle threatened to have an investigation done, the next week, a VP from Stony Brook said that it would take 2- 3 years to see some savings because they will not renew employees contracts, as they end. Originally the president of Stony Brook said that he would save 6. 7 million dollars in a year.

    The Town of Southampton offered 12-20 million to sustain the campus, to Stony Brook and the president declined. So it is not about money.

    Will an organic garden grow without destruction, at Stony Brook University? I doubt it. Will there be an organic greenhouse available to the environmental students? I doubt it. Will they be clustered in classes that are within a few adjacent buildings? No way! Will they be able to learn across the curriculum about environmental concerns? Not at a school with 25,000 students. Will they be able to buy produce from the local farmers for the cafeteria? What local farmers in Stony Brook? Will they be close to jobs and volunteer oportunities that support the environment, as much as the East End of Long Island, in Stony Brook? No, it is much less rural and a less pristine place. ( I lived there for 18 years. Sorry Three Village, the East End is full of organizations and govermental agencies that support sustainability.)

    The Southampton Campus is what saved Stony Brook from losing its Middle States Accreditation, per Karl Grossman. Stony Brook was too focused on research and not focused enough on education. So Southampton is what keeps Stony Brook accredited. Without accreditation you can’t get federal student loans on your campus. So this is not a campus that is there to provide a private education. Its there to be the antithesis to a narrow focus on research on the main campus.

    So what was Eric W. Kaler, VP at Stony Brook and VP at Brookhaven Labs ( Brookhaven Associates) thinking when he posted an article in the Long Island Business News seeking panel members to decide what to do with the Southampton campus, once the undergraduate program is removed.? Why did he fail to post an article in the Southampton Press or the Sag Harbor Express, or the Independent, or the East Hamtpton Star?

    Can you imagine what you can do with 82 pristine acres in Southampton? According to Karl Grossman, Brookhaven National Labs is awash in federal funding due to a renewed interest in nuclear power. A new Photon accelerator is being built. It will be 10,000 times brighter than any other light source on earth. (Stony Brook is a partner of Brookhaven National Labs.)

    The state senate passed parts of PHEEIA only for Stony Brook University (Southampton) and Buffalo University on March 22nd. Dr. Stanley, president of Stony Brook, published a letter that day to celebrate the decision. It does not seem like a coincidence that 2 weeks later he was announcing that the Southampton Campus needed to close.

    Here is PHEEIA:

    Scroll down to Subpart B to find out what Stony Brook will be allowed to do with the 82 acres, if the Assembly passes what the Senate passed.

    These 82 acres have been called the jewel of Southampton. These 82 acres are pristine. How long will they remain that way?

    The campus dedicated to the environment and sustainability was not a threat to this land. The students on this campus were good stewards of this land. Why remove them?

  7. JANET says:

    what about the online distance learning students? can they transfer to the main campus?

  8. leo says:

    Please stand corrected: the majority of Southampton students chose NOT to move to the main campus & chose NOT to pay another dime to Stony Brook University. Of the 800 Southampton students (500 current and 300 newly-accepted freshman), only about 300 reluctantly made the move to the main campus, and did so for the time being only because they were left with no other option.

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