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Damilola Oseni sat on a cushioned bench in the brand-new Student Union. Her braids swung as she examined the new building — the high ceiling, the glossy white floors, the prison-made furniture. Anger — maybe disgust, maybe disdain — crawled up her throat like hot vomit.
“I know they have money, they just built this whole building,” she said, throwing her arms up. The Stony Brook Union cost $63.4 million to demolish and rebuild. The university seemed to produce the money with ease. Her first semester cost only a little over $5,000. They had nothing to give her.

If you ask a Stony Brook University student about activism on campus, they’d likely have little, if anything, to say. To Mitchel Cohen, a student from 1965 to 1975, that reality is hard to swallow. Just half a century ago, Cohen’s days were punctuated with protests on what, according to him, was the most politically active campus on the East Coast. As it turns out, the history of Long Island’s “sleeper campus” is littered with smashed windows, smoke bombs and student arrests.