Students wait outside a meeting that Stony Brook University President...

Students wait outside a meeting that Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. had with staff and faculty at Stony Brook Southampton to announce the near complete closure of the school, in Southampton. (April 7, 2010) Credit: Photo by Gordon M. Grant

Students from Stony Brook University's Southampton campus are holding rallies, lobbying politicians and organizing a 15-mile walk in an attempt to save the school.

Five days after learning most of the campus will be closed in the fall because of a budget crunch, students used an online petition to gather more than 1,000 signatures. They've also enlisted support from thousands of parents and community members through Facebook and other social networks.

Students walked the streets of Southampton Village Friday to enlist the help of business owners. Leaders of the "Save Our School" drive are demanding meetings with politicians to ask for help.

"We have an incredible amount of support, and we're feeling good," said one organizer, junior Caroline Dwyer, after she and two classmates met Friday with Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor).

Stony Brook president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley has announced he will shutter most of the small, money-losing campus after August to save $6.7 million per year.

A popular writing teacher, Heather Macadam, assigned her class to write letters to President Barack Obama and others, then posted YouTube videos of students reading the letters.

Students said their energetic response mirrors the activism that's a part of the campus, which emphasizes environmentalism. The admissions office canceled a lunch for accepted students scheduled for Saturday, but Dwyer said some of the invited plan to show up anyway.

Parents, too, have been deluging Stony Brook with complaints.

Bill Swezey of Great River said his son, Billy, 20, decided to transfer from Binghamton University after freshman year, turning down an offer from the University of Miami's prestigious marine science program. Now a junior, he loves the small campus with 525 students and doesn't want to transfer to Stony Brook for his final year.

"We were sold a bill of goods," his father said.

Others are outraged that Stony Brook spent $78 million of taxpayers' money since buying the campus from Long Island University four years ago, and now appears to be abandoning that investment.

Perhaps the most dramatic protest will be a walk that starts Monday morning in Rocky Point and winds to Stony Brook's main campus, where the marchers plan to deliver protest letters to Stanley.

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