When entering a new school, it’s easy to get lost in all the novelty of being in a different place. From donations and debacles to Wiz Khalifa concerts, here are some of last year’s most pressing events to help the class of 2016 get a sense of what Stony Brook University is all about.
Nadia Habib escapes deportation
Born in Bangladesh, Nadia Habib, a psychology major at SBU, came to the United States when she was just a year old.
In September 2011, Nadia and her family learned that she and her mother, Nazmin, were bound to be deported to Bangladesh because of their undocumented status.
The New York State Youth Leadership Council worked with them on the case, and more than 100 demonstrators protested outside the Federal Plaza building in New York City when Nadia and her mother presented themselves for deportation.
After Nazmin Habib had been fighting for asylum for herself and Nadia for 10 years, the Habibs were granted one year to apply for permanent residency.
Simons donation and the Academic Success Fee
In December 2011, James H. Simons, former chairman of the mathematics department, and his wife, Marilyn, donated $150 million to the university. The donation helps fund scholarships, new faculty positions, construction on a Medical and Research Translation building for researching diseases and more.
The donation marks one of the top 10 donations ever made to a public university and the largest in SBU’s history.
Within the same week, University administration announced the “Academic Success Fee” to fund scholarships and hire new faculty.
Unrelated to the Simons donation, the fee originally asked students to pay $37.50 every semester, starting with the fall 2011 semester.
Administration soon took back the fall 2011 fee and started to add the Academic Success Fee to tuition bills in spring 2012.
During the spring 2012 semester, Charles Robbins, the vice provost for under-graduate education and dean of the undergraduate colleges, announced that the administration had created a new academic calendar that would only recognize federally mandated holidays as days off from instruction. Religious holidays will not be observed. Despite petitions from students and chaplains of the Stony Brook campus, classes will be in session on major religious holidays including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Good Friday and the first two days of Passover. Arguments over the new academic calendar spurred statements from conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.
Alumni are winners
Stony Brook alumni found success in film and music during the most recent awards season. Mark Bridges ’83 won the Academy award for costume design for his work on “The Artist,” which won the Oscar award for best picture.
Bridges holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from SBU and a Master of Fine Arts degree in costume design from New York University. Steven Mackey won the Grammy award for Best Small Ensemble Performance for his album: “Lonely Motel: Music from the Slide.” Mackey earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of California Davis and, in 1980, a Master of Arts degree in music from SBU.
Wiz Khalifa performed for a sold-out crowd of 3,750 students and non-students at the Stony Brook arena in April 2012. Khalifa followed opening acts Miguel and Chevy Woods. The concert sold out in four hours, with the box office opening at 9 a.m. and running out of tickets at 1 p.m.