Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley addressed the issue of illegal off-campus housing in a letter published by the “Village Times Herald.”
Stanley countered several misconceptions, including the perception that the university’s student body has tripled over the years and there are not enough dormitories to accommodate the increase.
However, he wrote, “we have increased [as a student body] and will continue to increase on-campus housing by an average of 217 beds per year.”
Stanley’s response to off-campus housing problems included “educating our students about the new town code provisions so that they can distinguish a legal rental from an illegal one.”
The response entails an initiative to only post rentals with permits on the Off Campus Housing Website, prohibit the advertisement of illegal rentals on campus bulletin boards, build 1,100 new beds to keep up with the enrollment growth, explore areas close to the school where proper off-campus housing can be built, the “Be a Good Neighbor Campaign” to remind students to keep behavior in check off campus and informing the town of code violations.
According to Assistant Vice President of Government and Community Relations Michael Arens, the project for 1,100 new beds will be “stretched out over the next three to five years.” Funding for the $200M project comes from the state.
Arens said that ideas such as constructing off-campus housing are being developed out of a partnership between the university, the community and the town.
When asked if students have reached out about housing concerns, Arens said, “Absolutely….There’s been some issues where we’ve had students who have been in unsafe conditions and they’ve come to us for assistance…”
He explained that if the university receives a tip about a house that is not in compliance with town rental code, it is reported to the Town of Brookhaven for them to investigate.
In terms of student misconduct related to off-campus housing, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Suffolk County Police Department, who Arens said has a “very good relationship” with university police. Arens added that “if a student…receives a summons, or is even arrested, that’s reported to the university and then our Office of Community Standards.”
President Stanley wrote in his letter that “the university Office of Community Standards investigates complaints that are brought to our attention. Where appropriate, students are disciplined in a manner consistent with our behavioral standards,” in response to a concern that the university “looks the other way when students misbehave off campus.”