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

Students wait outside a meeting that Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley Jr. held with faculty Wednesday to announce the closure of much of Stony Brook's Southampton campus. (April 7, 2010) Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Asha Armstrong, 18, turned down scholarships from two colleges last year to attend Stony Brook University's Southampton campus. She liked the small feel, the emphasis on environmental sustainability, and the relatively short distance from her family in Brooklyn.

Armstrong listened in a theater Wednesday as the university's president, Dr. Samuel L. Stanley, told students he had decided to close or move most of the Southampton's programs - including Armstrong's major, marine vertebrate biology.

Armstrong left the theater in tears, saying she didn't believe administrators' assurances that they will try their best to offer the needed courses on Stony Brook's main campus and find housing for the Southampton students. "I wish I'd gone somewhere else," she said.

Adam Meier, 20, a junior from upstate Orange County, said he'd started on the main campus three years ago and had been disillusioned with college education before transferring to Southampton. "There we had classes with 200 kids, and here we have 20," he said. "I couldn't see myself going back."

Marc Mauritzen, 19, a freshman from Uniondale, said he faced a practical problem. A marine science major, he chose Southampton in large part because it's close to the water, where he can do research and seek internships. "I don't have the money to live on the main campus and drive back here."

Caroline Dwyer, 30, a junior who commutes from Quogue, says her major - environmental design policy - is so unusual that she doesn't know any other college that offers it. Plus, she is a single mother with a 3-year-old, she said, and can't move.

Spending a year at the main campus will add 90 minutes to her daily round-trip commute, cause wear and tear on her car, and give her fewer hours at her part-time bookkeeping job, she said. "That means I'll have to take out more loans."

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