By Carol Moran
Stony Brook University has plans for major renovations to begin in 2013. And to prepare, the Faculty Student Association is digging deeper into students’ pockets.
The FSA Board of Directors passed a budget Friday night that includes a $35 increase in the residential meal plan fee and an increase in the prices of food on campus, which will be partially allocated to the construction of a new dining facility between the Wang Center and Mendelsohn Quad, and partially allocated to extended hours at the Union Commons, the Union Deli and Starbucks, according to members of the FSA Board of Directors.
The university plans to complete the new dining facility to accommodate students during the reconstruction of the Stony Brook Union. To further raise money towards the new dining facility, the University will close Campus Connection, the H-Quad dining facility, next fall. To compensate, the Union deli will be open until three a.m., and the Union Commons and Starbucks until midnight.
On top of the $35 fee increase, residential meal plans will increase by 2 percent, as they do annually, to compensate for increases in the cost of living and inflation. Since the fee is restricted to residential meal plans, the FSA voted to increase the price of food, so that the burden of funding the construction projects will also be carried by commuters, faculty, and students on the budget or west apartments meal plan. Students with the residential meal plans that are already paying the fee will receive a discount at the registers so that they aren’t affected by the price increase.
David Mazza, Undergraduate Student Government vice president for communications, was the only FSA Board of Directors member to vote against the budget, and Froylan Enciso, President of the Graduate Student Organization, was the only to abstain. Mazza said he would rather see the hours of the Union dining facilities stay the same and have the meal plan fee increase by half as much.
Enciso said he abstained because “the students have not been appropriately consulted” as to the allocation of their money.
USG President Matt Graham, who voted in favor of the FSA budget, said students can avoid paying the fee increase and the rise in the price of food by living off campus and cooking, and that he is supportive of renovations to the dining facilities, which haven’t caught up with the renovations of residences in the past 20 years. However, he said it’s a tough decision to place the cost of the construction onto the students.
“It’s because the state isn’t providing the proper support for a public university that it should be,” he said.
The plans to tear down and reconstruct the Union and build the new dining facility nearby are only a small portion of the outline the University has drawn, which includes the construction of new residences, academic buildings and other dining facilities.
According to Barbara Chernow, vice president for facilities and services, the master plan will close the gap between East and West campus, move the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences to the academic mall and balance student housing more evenly across campus.
Before construction begins, the University needs to submit a budget request to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature, which, if fully funded, will cover the construction projects until 2023.
Chernow said that the new and renovated buildings will support the enrollment projections for Stony Brook–about 3,000 new students, as well as the academic plan and the research plan for the university.