Stony Brook University, which outraged students and lawmakers last year by eliminating undergraduate and residential programs at its Southampton campus, now plans to reintroduce a residential component with new Semester by the Sea programs in marine sciences and the arts, which would be open to undergraduates from across the country — as well as Stony Brook’s own students.
University spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow said the school will sidestep the kind of financial troubles that precipitated cutbacks at Southampton by limiting course offerings to specialized classes and avoiding administrative services — a dean, advisers, recruiters and information technology support staff — a full-time residential program requires.
The university also might charge a higher housing fee than on the main campus, she said.
Stony Brook’s plan, which also includes an expanded graduate program in the creative arts, prompted an agreement between the university and plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to reverse the partial closure of the campus to put their litigation on hold until March 30, as the two sides hold discussions on a possible settlement.
Stony Brook’s plan calls for an expanded graduate program in the creative arts, building on the existing Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing, to start at Southampton this fall, along with an undergraduate Semester by the Sea program in marine sciences.
A similar semester-long program in the creative arts — including creative writing and literature, theater and film, and visual arts — could launch as early as the fall of 2012, the university said.
State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who are negotiating with the university on behalf of plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Stony Brook, called the university’s proposal “a start.”
However, student plaintiffs, whose undergraduate sustainability program was relocated from Shinnecock Hills to Stony Brook’s main campus last fall, said Tuesday that the plan does not address their grievances.
“Not at all,” said Kathleen Furey, a junior majoring in environmental humanities who now commutes from Hampton Bays. Stony Brook’s sustainability program, integrated across the campus, had earned international praise, she said.
“We cannot grow as a society if we are not preparing our students for 30 percent growth in sustainability jobs,” she said. “On this campus, we were living, eating, sleeping, breathing sustainability."
LaValle and Thiele said they would continue to push the university for a full residential program at Southampton, as well as “justice” for students whose education was disrupted.