Stony Brook University leases dorms in Shirley at Dowling College's former student housing space

The Stony Brook University campus on Oct. 22, The Stony Brook University campus on Oct. 22, 2013. The school has overflowing dorms and is leasing housing for fall semester 2014 at the Dowling College Shirley campus. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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Stony Brook University is leasing dormitories at Dowling College's Shirley aviation school as part of a plan to address a chronic shortage of on-campus beds.

About 200 Stony Brook students moved into dorms at the Shirley campus this past weekend in preparation for the school year, which began Monday. Dowling had closed the dorms last year as part of a cost-cutting move.

Stony Brook housed students at the aviation school in 1999, while a dormitory was under construction at the Stony Brook campus, university spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow said.

Stony Brook has recently added more than 650 beds to existing residence halls on its main campus, and the university broke ground this summer on a new dormitory that is expected to add 759 beds by 2016.

The moves were announced this month by university president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. in a letter to the school's neighbors. Residents have complained that hundreds of Stony Brook students have moved into off-campus houses in residential neighborhoods due to on-campus housing shortages.

Stanley, in the letter, said the additional housing will allow the school to provide beds "for nearly all freshmen who choose to live on campus." The college welcomed about 24,400 graduate and undergraduate students to its campuses this week, including 2,849 freshmen, Sheprow said.

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Sheprow said Stony Brook has a two-year lease to use the Dowling dorms. Student housing fees cover the cost of the lease, she said. The university will provide shuttle bus service for students to and from the campus, officials said.

Stony Brook residents have complained about increased traffic and noise caused by students in off-campus homes. Suffolk County and campus police broke up a party last spring that had attracted hundreds of young people to an off-campus house. Stanley's letter said three students were disciplined for their role in the party.

Brookhaven Town launched a crackdown on illegal rentals last year in response to Stony Brook residents' complaints.

Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright said Tuesday she plans to convene a meeting between residents, landlords, and town and college officials to discuss off-campus housing issues. The meeting will be moderated "by a neutral third party," Cartright said in an email to Newsday.

Kai Li, organizer of the Coalition of Landlords and Tenants of Stony Brook, said the group plans to take part in the meeting. "We try to work together," Li said. "We want to listen to their concerns, and we want them to listen to our arguments."

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