The State University of New York at Stony Brook was founded in 1957 with a mission to prepare secondary school teachers in science and math. Originally named State University College, it was located in Oyster Bay, Long Island, and started out with a hundred Long Island students. Five years later, the school moved to its current location in Stony Brook. Since then, the campus has tripled in size to over 22,000 students and 2,000 faculty members. In 2002, SBU added a satellite campus in Manhattan geared toward professional studies and undergraduate classes in the shorter winter and summer sessions. The most recent addition to the university is its South Hampton, NY, branch, where students and faculty focus on environmental research and marine sciences. Currently, SBU is completing two more information technology and energy research centers.
Today, Stony Brook is a large public research university still renowned for its science, psychology, and engineering departments, and it boasts a competitive nursing program. Its pre-med program and research facilities attract students who seek an affordable in-state education under professors who are knowledgeable in their fields of study. Whatever students decide to major in, they must complete a Diversified Education Curriculum that, unlike traditional core requirements, isn’t broken up into typical subjects. Instead, students can choose from a wider array of classes in the fields of Humanities, European Traditions and Implications of Science and Technology.
Stony Brook’s main campus is located in the middle of Long Island, NY, about 60 miles east of NYC. The West Campus contains most of the dorms, where both undergraduates and grad students reside near the academic buildings, library and activities center. Separated by Nicolls Road, the East campus houses all the laboratories, the medical school, and the Stony Brook University Medical Center. The South Campus is farthest away, separated from the other two by a forest reserve. It's home to the Marine Sciences Research Center, Dental School, and a research center for disabilities and autism.
Other than the dorms, most hangout spots on campus are only busy during the day. The Student Activities Center (SAC) is the campus hub. It has one of the busier dining halls, the main fitness center, dozens of meeting rooms and offices, bank, post office, campus store, and several lounges. Not that the highlight of a student’s day is to do a little banking and mail a few postcards, but it’s a place where students can get some errands done and then kill time in-between classes. The SAC also has a whole room dedicated to benches, and different item such as jewelry, posters and crafts are sold every day of the week. Some events held in the SAC in the past have been comedy shows, the annual Strawberry Fest, Bingo for Books, and the Vagina Monologues. At night, the SAC will often be busy with events and shows put on by the Student Activities Board and Greek organizations.
On nice days, one of the busier places on campus is the Staller Steps. Students will lie out of the grass tanning, eating, studying or just sleeping. They play Frisbee, soccer, football, and even set up a Slip ‘n Slide. The same can be said about the courtyards inside each of the quads. This is where most students will spend spring and early fall afternoons hanging out, playing games, studying, or just lying out in the sun.
Other favorite spots for SBU students to kill time and unwind are numerous cafés on campus. The Tabler Café and University Café (the only on-campus bar) regularly host bands and other performances. The Tabler Café is the main scene for Stony Brook’s artistic community. The Harriman Café and Kelly Café are smaller and quieter, so they’re a good places to go if you have to get some work done or want to meet friends to talk.
Stony Brook lacks a “college town” atmosphere, and everything here happens on a smaller scale. With the Metro North New Haven Line located right on campus, however, students are less than an hour away from NYC wild nights, or they can commute to a nearby small town if the local mall and bars get stale.
The school is located in fairly populated suburban area. The campus itself is somewhat isolated by main roads, so not much is in walking distance. However, there are plenty of stores and shopping centers, as well as mall a couple of miles away. Although these aren’t within walking distance, there are local bus services that run through campus, school bus routes that go off-campus on weekends, and the Metro North train station on campus, so it’s not like living in a bubble. Since this is Long Island, everyone either has a car or knows somebody with one.
Smith Haven Mall is nothing spectacular, but it does have a good selection of stores. Regular buses come through campus that can take you there for about a dollar. On the weekend, the school has buses that run routes to the mall and the shopping areas around it.
Across from the mall is a movie theater. Again, nothing out of the ordinary, but it’s close and easily accessible. The best thing about this is the school sells discount tickets that work here, $4 compared to the $10 the theater usually charges. There are some restrictions, such as a movie has to be out for a week or two, and there are a limited number of tickets each week that usually sell out fast.
Just a short train ride away from campus is Port Jefferson. There is a lot to do there, including a ferry to Connecticut, and lots of stores and restaurants. My personal favorite is the candy store. Lots of ice cream, lots of fudge, lots of sleepless nights. Restaurants around campus can be expensive, so if you want an affordable, quality steak and are tired of the chains, visit JRs Steakhouse. It’s very close to campus and not all that expensive, especially for a steakhouse.
As for the night life and entertainment, there are several bars/clubs around campus. Two of the most popular ones are Myst and Bamboo Bernie’s, where there’s a new theme every week. Also worth mentioning is The Bench, which has undergone numerous name changes over the years.
Regardless of the weather, my personal favorite place is Port Jefferson. There are little shops all along Main Street, as well as all different types of restaurants and bars. It’s easy to either take the train there or just drive, and everything is right along the water. There have been nights where my friends and I have just hung out around the docks, and it’s really a fun and relaxing time. You can really spend an entire day or night there and always have something to do. This even opens up the option to taking the ferry to Connecticut if you want!
Because of the train and the proximity of nearby popular towns to Stony Brook, St. James and Smithtown open up a lot of different options for students. Both towns definitely gained popularity once the bar in walking distance from campus closed, but it’ll probably end up reopening again. Either way, both towns are always handy and popular. Smithtown is home of Myst Lounge Bar & Club, which is definitely one of the most popular bars for Stony Brook students, and Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub is on the same block. St. James offers Shamrocks Pub and several other bar/clubs, which are obviously a popular hangout among college students.
Stony Brook is very close to north shore beaches, and there are a lot of nice areas to walk around in Stony Brook Village and Port Jefferson. The community surrounding Stony Brook has become more accepting of having a college campus in their backyard over the years, although from what I understand they do not want Stony Brook to build "vertically", meaning they don't want to be able to see the campus from a distance.
If you are looking to appreciate the natural beauty of Long Island’s North Shore, I recommend Avalon Park. Avalon Park is right near campus, located on Stony Brook Road. It is a great place to escape the noise of everyday life, and wonderful for anyone who is all about being one with nature. For more information, check out http://www.avalonparkandpreserve.org/directions.htm.
If you are in the mood for Italian food, I recommend O Sole Mio, located in the Waldbaum’s Shopping Center, off Route 347 in Stony Brook. You can either dine in or order food to go, but unlike other pizzerias, you actually want to dine in because the atmosphere is so inviting (and the bread they give is delicious!). You can even conclude your feast with some ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery.
Stony Brook might have its fair share of commuters, but that doesn’t mean school spirit is lacking here. Neither is curiosity, as explained by former SBY intern Edward Rae, one of the only people who has toyed with the idea of going on this underground adventure:
Several buildings on campus are linked through underground tunnels. Every year, though, you hear of someone supposedly finding the tunnels and making their way through. It’s always done at night, as it could very well be considered trespassing. Most students would refuse to believe they existed, but the wonderful invention of YouTube has solved that problem. There is a video showing the journey through one of the tunnels, although the makers made sure not to reveal where they began or ended. While most students will never set foot in any of these tunnels, it would be hard to find a student who hasn’t at least heard of them.
For the less daring, there are always the tamer, although hardly boring, options.
During finals, when everyone is absolutely miserable and feels like they want to pull their hair out, students at Stony Brook stick their heads out their windows and scream their lungs out at midnight--appropriately, it's known as the "Midnight Scream." It starts the night before the first final and lasts every night until finals are over. I love this tradition because it gives you a way to literally scream your stress away. Sometimes, it ends in people yelling at each other outside their windows, and the amusement is incredible. You almost find yourself sitting around waiting for it because it’s the perfect excuse to go nuts. Basically, when the clock strikes 12:00AM, there is no possible way that you can study. Let loose!
The first major snow day of every year might as well be called the day to not go to classes. For me, it means sleeping late, ordering Chinese food, playing around outside like you’re ten years younger, and having hot chocolate. Because there are a fair amount of commuters at Stony Brook, it is safe to basically assume that even though classes were not canceled, people will not be making the drive in for classes. Professors at this point probably realize that a lot of snow outside is the equivalent of a day off! Snow days are the best unofficial tradition- who wouldn’t want to play all day?
For some reason, here at Stony Brook, Homecoming has only reached the ranks of an "unofficial" tradition. The unofficial part of Homecoming is that everyone actually goes! Sure, there are other games all year and there are definitely people that go to them, but there is absolutely nothing like Homecoming. It seems like it’s one of the only times that you ever have everyone at Stony Brook in the same place. There’s tailgating before and during the game and probably the most school spirit that’s expressed all year, with basically the whole stadium packed with people wearing red. Plus, if you go early, you get a bunch of free stuff that you can decorate your dorms with.
Started in 1981, I-CON (which stands for Island conference, in reference to Long Island) is a three-day festival "designed to encourage literacy, creativity, and interest in science and technology through science fiction and its related genres." It is quite a sight to see. When I-CON comes into town, the campus is taken over by the convention. The convention offers something for everyone: science and technology, anime, comic books, gaming, fantasy and more. There are guest speakers at the convention who are well-known in their fields (though most aren’t notable if you do not know anything about the topics).
Joe Nathan (1997) is a closing pitcher for the Minnesota Twins.
Joy Behar (M.A. in English education) is a comedian and star of The View.
Carolyn Porco (1974) was a leader of the Imaging Team for the Cassini Mission to Saturn.
Craig Allen (1979) is a WCBS-TV and WCBS-AM meteorologist.
Scott Higham (1982) is a journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner.
Sandy Pearlman (1966) is a music producer who worked with The Clash and Blue Oyster Cult.
The Stony Brook Seawolves compete in the NCAA Division I category, but the Kenneth P. Lavelle Stadium is seldom packed to capacity. In an effort to boost school spirit, SBU started having giveaways at the games. In fact, the school sometimes offers free tuition to a lucky member of the audience.
However, Homecoming and games against arch rival Hofstra University draw large crowds. Many students know kids from the other school and probably even grew up and went to high school some. The rivalry is especially heated between the nationally ranked men’s lacrosse teams, the best team at both schools. Hofstra and Stony Brook are "cross-town rivals," since they are the only two D-I sports teams on Long Island.
Intramurals play a bigger role on campus. The Sports Complex, complete with an indoor track surrounding the basketball court, is another extremely popular hangout. The Sports Complex also has free fitness classes and open recreation for such sports as basketball or indoor soccer. The Sports Complex also houses the volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, and track and field teams, as well as local concerts, comedy shows and events. For a schedule of the open rec hours, which shows the activities listed each week, go to http://studentaffairs.stonybrook.edu/rec/hours.shtml .
Debbie Does Dallas: In the 1970s, different sites throughout Stony Brook University were used for the filming of this well-known porn video.
Each year, student groups build boats using duct tape and cardboard and have an annual race called the Roth Pond Regatta.
Stony Brook offers a TESOL program in the Linguistics Department for students who want a Masters degree in teaching English as a Second Language.
The Brookhaven National Laboratory is co-managed by Stony Brook for the U.S. Department of Energy.
There is a free period most students share each Wednesday from 12:50pm-2:10pm known as “Campus Lifetime”.
Strawberry Fest happens every last Wednesday in April. As the name suggests, it’s an event dedicated to strawberries. Students pay a small fee for a ticket to the event, which has several different stations of various strawberry concoctions.
Stony Brook has a lounge exclusively for commuters called the Commuter Commons, located in the Student Activities center.
- Edward Rae ‘08, Amanda Blustein ’09 and Elizabeth Chervin ‘08
Freshman at Stony Brook can choose between corridor- and suite-style dorms. Juniors and seniors typically live in undergraduate apartments with between four and six bedrooms. Each quad is on the outskirts of the campus with the academic buildings in the middle. No matter where you live, the central part of campus is never more than 15 minutes away. In addition, there are two apartment complexes for graduate students, one of which is usually occupied by the med students. There are also on-campus apartments for married and domestic couples as well as families.
Unlike a lot of other universities, there are no dorms allocated exclusively for freshmen and sophomores. Rather, students are placed in Learning Communities - quads based on their chosen majors, so they'll get to know people taking the same classes, as them as well as have easy access to upperclassmen when help is needed. If space is tight, some freshmen may be tripled in a dorm during their first semester, a situation where three people are placed in a double room and receive $5 a day for every day they stay there.
The Stony Brook campus feels very large at first, and commuter students need to allow ample time to get to class. Parking can get a little tight, and most commuters have to park in the South P lot, where the bus picks them up.
Freshmen at Stony Brook are given the choice between traditional corridor living and residing in a suite.
Dorming at Stony Brook is a great experience overall, not to mention an excellent opportunity to meet new people. All dorms and apartments are fully furnished, with a desk, bed, lamp, and two dressers (one large one small).
Suite-style dorms include Tabler Quad, Kelly Quad, and Roth Quad. Some of them are cooking suites, with three bedrooms, one bathroom, and a kitchen, while others are suites that have a living area rather than a kitchen. Students are usually paired with a roommate and share a common room and bathroom with two other pairs of roommates, so there’s little competition for showers.
Roth Quad is air-conditioned and centered around Roth Pond, home of the infamous Roth Pond Regatta that takes place every spring. Tabler Quad is supposedly located far away from classes (but it’s really not that bad at all) and is basically known as the “artsy” area. Kelly Quad is great for its location because of Kelly Deli, which is open really late.
Corridor-style dorms include H Quad, Mendelsohn Quad, and Roosevelt Quad. Typically, each room in these buildings is a double. About 30 to 40 students live in each hall and all share a common bathroom, lounge, and, in some buildings, a kitchen.
H Quad and Mendelsohn Quad are the only two quads located on the side of campus right by the stadium, so for many people, that is definitely a perk. Roosevelt Quad isn’t the most attractive out of all of the dorms, but once you’ve actually been inside of a room, you realize that it’s not too bad.