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Dowling students voice loyalty, but parents’ viewpoint differs

Dowling College sophomore Stephen Naraine, 26, of Westbury,

Dowling College sophomore Stephen Naraine, 26, of Westbury, talked Friday, June 3, 2016, about how the college's announced closing is affecting him. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Some Dowling College students said Friday they would return to the school if it remains open, though their parents had different opinions.

As Dowling officials and alumni engaged in frantic efforts to salvage the college, which is slated to close Wednesday, scores of students flocked to Molloy College in Rockville Centre for a daylong “teach-out” event to help them figure out their next move. Molloy was designated as the primary contact for the displaced students.

“If they kept athletics, I would want to go back to Dowling,” said Tiana Deoliveira, 19, a softball player and physical education major from Shirley who would be a junior in the fall. She said she likes the small classes, individual attention from professors and “home-like” atmosphere.

But her father, Anthony Deoliveira, had strong reservations, fearful that even if Dowling manages to remain open, its future is shaky and it could close.

“For me as a parent, I would not want her to go back,” he said. “I would talk her out of it.”

Melissa Escobar, 21, a physical education major from Manhattan who lived in a residence hall at Dowling, said she would like to return in the fall for her senior year. “Dowling has been pretty great for us,” she said.

The Laird family of Holbrook has a particular dilemma.

Their oldest daughter, Samantha, 22, only has to do her student teaching for one semester, gaining 15 credits, to graduate. She would like to return and earn her teaching degree.

But her younger sister, Alexandra, 17, who committed to Dowling at the end of her sophomore year at Sachem High School East, said there is no way she will attend the school now. Dowling had offered her a scholarship to play field hockey and softball. She hoped to study criminal justice.

“It’s already so late — I need to look at other options,” she said.

Peter Kupperschmid, of Long Beach, said he loves Dowling’s “Academic Access” program, which helps students with handicaps, such as his son, attend the college. His son, Justin, 19, who is majoring in digital game design and graphic design, lived away from home for the first time during this past school year as a freshman.

But the father said he would not send his son back.

“It’s not a solid institution where I would want my son to go,” he said. “It’s sad, but it’s obviously been mismanaged.”

At Dowling’s Oakdale campus on Friday, students voiced similar sentiments.

Ryan Franciosa, 20, a junior from Dix Hills majoring in criminal justice, said, “I would be so happy to go here and finish,” instead of attending a school where students are packed “300 in a class.”

But he doesn’t expect to return. Instead, he is looking to transfer to Molloy or St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.

Stephen Naraine, 26, of Westbury is a sophomore studying digital game design. He said he has already made plans to register at LIU Post in Brookville.

“It’s sad, because I had a teacher who’s one of the best teachers here. He was excited about getting new computers and updating the graphics lab, and he was pretty much spearheading the new gaming courses that they have,” Naraine said.

He was skeptical of plans to save the school, having watched people pack up their belongings this week. “Personally, seeing what all my other professors are having to do and all the people having to clear stuff out, I would say it’s doubtful that it’s going to happen.”

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