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Judge Rules Stony Brook's Closure of Southampton Campus is Illegal

State judge says university needed council approval to proceed with closure.

New York State judge Paul J. Baisley Jr. issued a ruling Friday in which he said Stony Brook University acted illegally when it decided to close the Southampton campus in April.

In his ruling, Baisley said Stony Brook's administration should have involved the Stony Brook Council in making the decision to close the campus. State law requires the council, which consists of nine members appointed by the governor and one student elected by the student body, to review the University's major decisions and plans. Baisley said the failure of the university administration to involve the council nullifies its decision to close the Southampton campus.

"The Court finds that because the decision to close the Southampton campus constitutes 'a major plan'...the Council should have been involved in the determination regarding the future of the Southampton campus," Baisley said in the ruling. "The failure of the respondents to ensure its participation mandates that the determination be annulled."

In a statement issued Tuesday, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., R-Sag Harbor, lauded the judge's decision and the students who fought to keep the Southampton campus open.

"The entire process lacked transparency and openness," Thiele said. "The reason is obvious. The closure of the school cannot be defended in an open discussion."

One of the students involved in the case, Tara Linton, said hearing the news brought on a barrage of mixed feelings.

"It was good to hear that something got accomplished," said Linton, a junior studying environmental humanities. "At the same time, it's really unclear as to what will happen now."

Facing sharp cuts in state aid, Stony Brook president Samuel Stanley said in April that closing the Southampton campus would save the university about $6 million annually.

Requests for comment from Stony Brook University officials were not returned Tuesday.

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