A few dozen students with handmade signs rallied Wednesday to call for Stony Brook University to relocate the site of a Hilton hotel that may be built on campus.
With shouts of "Save Our Trees!" and "No Hotel!" and signs with slogans like "Keep Hilton Trash in Hollywood, Not Our Woods" and "We Speak for the Trees," the students marched back and forth on the academic mall to try and get the attention of university president Samuel L. Stanley Jr., who was attending a Veteran's Day ceremony inside the SAC.
The protest comes nearly two weeks after a preventing tree clearing on the site of the proposed Hilton Garden Inn on the SBU campus. A lawsuit is in progress concerning the 11-acre parcel of land, located east of the parking garage near the university's administration building and main entrance. The proposed hotel would be a five-story, 135-room, LEED-certified hotel with conference space and other amenities.
"The university and the developer are interested in proceeding with the hotel project, but as yet have not discussed the court's ruling," Stony Brook spokesperson Lauren Sheprow said.
Andrew Greco, vice president of the Environmental Club, said the students are not unilaterally opposed to the idea of a hotel on campus.
"We understand why the campus wants it, but we're opposed to that location," he said.
Greco formed a coalition called the Stony Brook Conservation Collective to fight the hotel at its proposed location with the larger goal of preserving undeveloped land on campus. The coalition of students represents several student organizations, including the Environmental Club, Social Justice Alliance and Radical Students Union. One of their concerns is for the animal population that dwells in those woods, such as salamanders. Another concern is the potential loss of woodlands used by Ph.D. candidates and graduate and undergraduate students for research.
Greco said the students attempted to enter the SAC at one point and were stopped by campus police. They later entered the Administration building and were able to walk past Stanley's office.
"We had to resort to more direct means to have our demands heard since we tried the more bureaucratic route" without results, Greco said.