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The Stony Brook Press - Volume 31, Issue 7

The Stony Brook Press - Volume 31, Issue 7

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NY State Senate: Get with the Times

Plus: The Fall '09 LitSup

http://www.sbpress.com
NY State Senate: Get with the Times

Plus: The Fall '09 LitSup

http://www.sbpress.com

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Published by: The Stony Brook Press on Dec 13, 2009
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 Vol. XXXI, Issue 7 | Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Any student who’s crossed the streetbetween the Student Union and theMelville Library during campus lifetimeknows what a pain it is to get cars tostop at the crosswalk.“I feel bad you have to make thecars just start and stop and cut themoff,” said Victoria Goldenberg, a thirdyear student from Brooklyn.“Maybe they can build a smallbridge so we don’t have to stop cars, wecan just walk over them,” she said.While this would solve the prob-lem, Barbara Chernow, the Vice Presi-dent of Facilities, has an alternativesolution. She has proposed a plan toclose John S. Toll Drive to vehiculartraffic and instead only allow delivery trucks to access the six loading dockslocated near the food centers at Jasmineand the Student Union.“I felt years ago that this was an areathat perhaps pedestrians weren’t cross-ing and looking as best they could,”Chernow said.Last year the university stoppedrouting busses down John S. Toll Drivefor this very same reason. Chernowsaid she fears that students may be indanger of being hit by vehicles on thatroad.Farooq Zafar and his three friendsknow that fear all too well. Zafar saidthat two years ago while crossing JohnS. Toll Drive near the Physics Building,he and three friends almost got hit by acar.“She stopped for us and then juststarted going again,” he said. “We camereally close to getting hit.”For this reason Zafar said that clos-ing the road to vehicular traffic is agood idea but Goldenberg is not sosure.“I don’t really think they shouldclose off a road,” she said. “What arethey going to do with the space instead?They should just build a small bridgefor us.”Goldenberg’s opinion stems fromher concern that campus traffic may worsen if John S. Toll Drive is closed.She said that the streets are already con-gested with traffic, especially aroundpeak times, and that closing off a streetlike John S. Toll Drive may cause moreproblems than it solves.Vehicles have struck students oncampus before, but not in front of theStudent Union. On Dec. 8, 2005 a carstruck and killed Simona Grabocka onCircle Road in front of Roosevelt Quadnear the bike path. A black silhouettecutout remains at the corner where shedied.Since her death the University hasincreased the number and visibility of stop signs, and in 2006 even hired Wiley Engineering P.C., a consulting engi-neers firm, to study pedestrian anddriver habits on campus. The firm an-alyzed campus roads at peak hours andfound several areas of campus to be es-pecially dangerous.The intersections of Circle Road andJohn S. Toll Drive,Circle Road andCampus Drive, Cir-cle Road at RothQuad, Circle Roadat Engineering andCircle Road at theKelly bus stop wereall identified asareas of concern by the consulting firm.Lauren Shep-row, Head of MediaRelations, was reluctant to give any fur-ther information on the proposed plansto close John S. Toll Drive to traffic.The plan is still in the developmentstage and many of the details have notyet been planned.It is also unclearwhen the university plans to close theroad to traffic if they ever do.So it remains a brainchild of Cher-now, one proposal pending amongmany. Maybe they will close of John S.Toll Drive to vehicular traffic, maybethey won’t. Or maybe they’ll just builda small bridge instead.
Look Both Ways Before You Cross the Road
By Raina Bedford
Pedestrians crossing Abbey Road
One week after the New York StateSenate voted against a same-sex mar-riage bill, Stony Brook students joinedtogether in front of the Kenneth P.LaValle stadium in protest of SenatorKenneth LaValle’s vote opposing the thebill. Students argued that LaValle’s voteis one against equality and that the uni- versity should not honor someoneagainst equality.“History does not excuse purveyorsof hate because they built football stadi-ums or made the trains run on time, norshould it,” said Doug Newman, founderof the Stony Brook Students for Equal-ity. “It may, shamefully, still be accept-able to many in this country to deny equality to people on the basis of theirsexual orientation, but if we accept that,we will never change it.”Members of the Stony Brook LGBTA, College Democrats, and thestudent body came out last Monday calling for the University to change thename of the stadium. The group of stu-dents has started a petition that will bepresented to Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley.The vote, 38-24, marked the end of what looked to be a promising year forsame-sex marriage proponents, espe-cially when gay rights organizationspent roughly $1 million in 2009 tolobby for the bill, according to
The NewYork Times
.Of the three state senators in Suf-folk County, only freshman senatorBrian Foley, a democrat representingthe 3rd district, had voted in favor of thebill. Foley had received roughly $17,500from gay rights groups, according to theNew York Public Interest ResearchGroup. Senator John Flanagan, a repub-lican of the 2nd district, had votedagainst the bill, despite receiving an es-timated $4,000 from similar groups.LaValle, the republican incumbent of the 1st district since 1977, also received$4,000 according to the NYPIRG re-port.LaValle’s office was contacted butwould not comment on both the sta-dium protest and his position on themarriage-bill. A statement was madeavailable on his website regarding thebill and his stance which said that thesupport for gay marriage is equally di- vided.“I believe the next transitional stepfor gay and lesbian couples is civilunions,” LaValle said in the statementon his website. “I believe this would beaccepted by society and would providesame sex couples equality of rightsunder the law.”For Adam Peck, an organizer of theprotest and petition, the notion that so-ciety is not ready for the change of same-sex marriage, strongly resemblesthe civil rights movement. “That argu-ment could be made for any socialmovement,” said Peck, the Editor-In-Chief of 
Think Magazine
. “There wasn’ta time for the civil rights movement butit happened. These kind of movementsalways happen in the middle of whatpeople say is not the right time.”Just hours after the state senate voted, Newman created a Facebook group that called for support of equalrights and motioned for the removal of LaValle’s name. Newman said he wassurprised by the reaction and feedback the movement has gotten on the Face-book page.“I have no expectations for how thisfight will end up, but I think the ad-ministration and Sen. LaValle may besurprised how much passion there is init and how many people care about it,”Newman said. “I didn’t really see this re-action coming and I doubt they did ei-ther.”The stadium, which hosts a numberof Stony Brook athletic teams and com-munity championship games, was com-pleted in 2002. The stadium was namedafter LaValle for his work in securingfunds to construct the $22 million proj-ect.
 Students Go Gay for Marriage
By Najib Aminy 
 
Carolina Hidalgo
 
The Stony Brook Press
3
News
Caitlin Fisher-Reid is a PhD stu-dent at Stony Brook in the departmentof Ecology & Evolution. The subject of her dissertation research has been thebehavior of indigenous salamanders onLong Island, from the red variety in thewest near Oyster Bay, to the black vari-ety in the east near the Pine Barrens.Right in front of the Main Entrance tothe University, in an 11-acre stretch of forest, is a rare place where both vari-eties are numerous and active. “It’s oneof my best sites,” she said. Unfortu-nately, all of that will be destroyed withthe planned construction of the newhotel in that forest.The controversy surrounding theplans for a hotel on campus have at-tracted a much larger audience than theUniversity Senate had originally antici-pated. The Town Hall meeting held Fri-day, December 4, had more attendeesthan could fit in the originally sched-uled SAC 302. The SAC auditoriumheld over 150 members of the univer-sity and surrounding community, many of them outspoken in their opinion onthe new Hotel’s plans.The Town Hall meeting, moderatedby Michael Schwartz, President of theUniversity Senate, consisted of a debatebetween Barbara Chernow, Vice Presi-dent of Facilities & Services, and Mal-colm Bowman, a Professor in theSchool of Atmospheric and Marine Sci-ences and president of the Stony Brook Environmental Conservancy, followedby comments and questions from theaudience.The primary issue at stake is thetract of land on which the hotel is set tobe built. The 11 acre stretch of forest infront of the main entrance is a smallpart of the Green Belt, the area of forestsurrounding the university that acts as abuffer it from the surrounding commu-nity. It is by no means an insignificantpart of the green belt, however. In addi-tion to creating a buffer, the forest en-forces Nicolls Road’s tradition as anon-commercial area. “It was designedthat way,” explained Bowman. “FromHighway 25A to Route 347, there areplaces of worship, of school administra-tion, a firehouse, but there are no com-mercial properties.”The forest acts as an educationalarea for biology undergraduates as well.Fisher-Reid, who also teaches biology undergrads, remarked that students aresurprised that she works so locally. “ I’mable to include more undergrads in my research because I have a campus fieldsite,” she said. “Many students tell methat they didn’t even know salamanderswere on Long Island, let alone Stony Brook.” The area is also used by otherbiology labs, such as BIO 352. MarvinO’Neal, course director for the Biology Department, urged the Administrationto reevaluate their priorities. “I encour-age Stony Brook to invest our currentresources into educating our studentsand supporting the teaching mission of our institution,” O’Neal said.Other professors have attributedthis controversy to the administration,their priorities and practices. Jeffery Levinton, distinguished Professor in theEcology & Evolution department,claimed that this has been a problemsince the previous administration.“Over the past 15 years, with regards tosustainability, landscape considerations,and even ecology education on campus,our administration has ignored twobasic actions: ask and listen,” explainedLevinton. Bowman and others have alsobeen actively involved with preservingthat area and the rest of the Green Beltfor nearly 10 years. A motion passed by the University Senate in 2001, denotesthe forests around campus as
UniversityLiving Treasures
, and resolves that theUniversity President must comply withthe State Environment Quality ReviewAct. SEQRA requires an environmentalimpact assessment before a state agency can proceed with any planned projectsor activities. Chernow asserted that theuniversity has so far complied withSEQRA, and will continue to do so.Construction has yet to be under-taken until SEQRA is complete, butChernow has stated that ground testsneed to be made beforehand. Bowman,however, began and ended his presen-tation with the claim that
no
action may be taken before the SEQRA is complete.According to SEQRA’s rules and regu-lations, “A project sponsor may notcommence any physical alteration re-lated to an action until the provisions of SEQRA have been complied with.”Other concerns include the envi-ronmental impact to the area, and Stony Brook’s perceived commitment to sus-tainability. Chernow asserted that thefootprint to the area will be minimal.Only 3.7 acres of the 11 are to be usedfor the hotel. The rest will be kept tomaintain the buffer, which will be aminimum of 175 feet from NicollsRoad. Several Biology and Ecology pro-fessors insisted that the impact wouldbe greater than just the amount of forestcleared. “It’s not just the footprint thatmatters...it’s the spillover,” described Jef-frey Levinton. “If you would have askeda single ecologist on campus we wouldhave told you, it’s not just a spot you canclear out that has the effect, but it’s theeffect of noise pollution and distur-bance of the things surrounding it.”Others brought up the questionableaction of the university in promoting it-self as a sustainable university—by evengoing so far as to open an sustainablecampus at Southampton—but not act-ing on it. Michelle Pizer, a senior atStony Brook and president of the Envi-ronmental Club on campus, was thefirst of several students to express con-cerns about the university’s preroga-tives. “As a school that claims to be partof the solution, why are we contributingto the problem?” Pizer asked. “Stony Brook should stop thinking green...andreally act green.” Levinton also men-tioned the hypocrisy involved withStony Brook and Southampton. “MaybeSouthapmton will be Dorian Gray, andwe will be the portrait that will gradu-ally deteriorate,” he quipped.Not every speaker spoke out againstthe plans, however. Representatives andheads of the University Hospital, theLong Island State Veteran’s Home, thesports department, and the Center forExcellence in Wireless and InformationTechnology all spoke of the hotel’s ne-cessity for visitors to the campus. Eventhose against it all recognized the hotel’simportance to the University, given thecurrent economic crisis. The hastinesswith which the plan has proceeded andthe unfortunate location are the com-plaints brought up by those who spokeout against it. Several alternatives havebeen explored by members of the Uni- versity Senate and the Stony Brook En- vironmental Conservancy. Some of these alternative locations were evenproposed by a few speakers, includingseveral parking lots around campus,with displaced parking being made upfor with a new parking garage or un-derground parking. Levinton, to muchapplause from the audience, proposedbuilding the hotel near the train station,to encourage the use of mass transit.The location, however, is where theultimate problem lies. The ground lease,acquired 20 years ago by the university,specifies the 11-acre woods. Both Cher-now and University President Stanley have asserted that it would be virtually impossible. The current climate of thestate legislature, according to Chernow,would never allow for a new groundlease somewhere else. Bowman, on theother hand, insisted that, according toSenator Kenneth LaValle, instead of ac-quiring a new ground lease, the currentground lease could be relocated withrelative ease. Any further action shouldbe held off until all the options havebeen sufficiently explored, according toBowman.“If we walk away from this devel-oper, what we are saying is there is notgoing to be a hotel,” Chernow said. “Be-cause they’re not going to wait many many years after we have to wait many many years for a new ground lease.”Stanley has said that he remains com-mitted to moving forward with theproject. Bowman and others remaincommitted to convincing them thatthere are feasible and suitable alterna-tives, and have sent a letter signed by 43professors sent to the president.In the meantime, the red and black Salamanders await their fate.
 Will ere be Continental Breakfast?
By Andrew Fraley 
Roman Sheydvasser
The red tailed hawks, which reside in the forest, will soar no more once the area’s integrity is destroyed.

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