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Stony Brook University School of Journalism

SBU Journalism Newsroom

By Daniel Dunaief 

Stony Brook University recently announced that the School of Journalism will be renamed to the School of Communication and Journalism. The School is the first, and only, in the 64-campus SUNY system that is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).

The new name aligns more closely with the School’s expanding undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and with the increased demand for professionals with backgrounds and experience in different communication-related disciplines.

“Communication goes beyond journalism, and Stony Brook’s School of Communication and Journalism will offer new opportunities for our students to explore important fields in science communication, health communication and mass communication, in addition to journalism,” Fotis Sotiropoulos, interim university provost and dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences said.

In the past year, the School has begun to offer graduate programs in science communication, in collaboration with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and in public health, in collaboration with the Stony Brook Program in Public Health. Additional programs are in development.

“Faculty at the School and the Alda Center work closely on communication research, particularly in the field of science communication, and by renaming the School, we will be able to foster additional communication research,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the School, executive director of the Alda Center, and vice provost for academic strategy and planning at Stony Brook. “Effective communication builds trust among people, enhances mutual understanding, and creates opportunities for collaboration. Now more than ever, we need effective communicators, and Stony Brook is eager to help fill that need.”

The School of Journalism was founded in 2006 and enrolls approximately 250 students. Its faculty include Pulitzer Prize winners, award-winning international and foreign correspondents, and experts in digital innovation. Graduates have gone on to work as reporters and media professionals at organizations around the country, including the New York Times, Buzzfeed, Moth Radio Hour, Council of Foreign Relations, Major League Baseball, and Nieman Lab.

The School is home to the Alda Center, the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting and the Center for News Literacy. It also offers the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, a one-week intensive program designed to introduce students from across Long Island and New York City to the possibilities of journalism as a career.

Learn more about the School of Communication and Journalism at www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/journalism/

SBU student Caroline Klewinowski is just one of thousands impacted by the university’s new dorming mandates. Photo by Julianne Mosher

By Julianne Mosher

Amidst the COVID-19 health crisis that is shaking the world, Stony Brook University students are now being affected – especially those who rely on dorming on campus. 

At the beginning of what was ostensibly the start of spring break, dormer students were told they would have to leave campus. Photo by Kyle Barr

The last week has been turbulent, and for students the news has been changing daily. On March 11, SBU Interim President Michael Bernstein sent out an email to students telling them that classes were going to resume remotely after spring break. 

“Spring break (March 16-20) will commence as planned at the end of this week and we will begin remote instruction at the conclusion of the break,” the email read. “Accordingly, students planning to leave campus for spring break should take with them any items essential to continuing their education from home including laptops, textbooks, notebooks, essential papers and other material. Students should also bring home valuables and indispensable items in the event that a sustained period will pass before they are able to easily retrieve them.”

The email came shortly after angry and anxious students began protesting the administration, as rumors began to swirl among the student body. 

“Administration didn’t really communicate with us,” said Jeni Dhodary, a philosophy and economics major. “We didn’t get an official response until the day before spring break. … It’s a really messy situation.”

Since students were gearing up for their break, they were advised to go home and stay home, if they could, even though the dorms and some food spots would remain open on campus for students preferring to stay there.

Caroline Klewinowski, originally of Brooklyn, opted to stay in her dorm instead of heading home for spring break. 

“New York City seems like ground zero for coronavirus,” she said. “Long Island seems a lot safer.” The journalism major’s mother suffers from lupus, which was another reason she wanted to stay away from home. 

But then things changed and on March 17 the university sent out another email to students saying that on-campus housing will close and students must go home. 

Richard Gatteau, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of Students, and Dallas Bauman, assistant vice president for Campus Residences stated in another email the plans for students over the next several days. 

“All residents who live within driving distance of campus must vacate the residence halls and campus apartments as soon as possible, but no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 19. All other residents must vacate as soon as possible, but no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, March 20,” it read. “Room and meal plan costs, where applicable, will be prorated for the remainder of the semester for all students leaving campus housing and applied as a refund and/or credit to your student account based on the date of checkout.”

At the beginning of what was ostensibly the start of spring break, dormer students were told they would have to leave campus. Photo by Kyle Barr

With an international student body that makes up about 18 percent of the university, those students are required to move out as well, since “Visa and Immigration Services will not terminate or shorten the immigration records for F-1/J-1 degree-seeking students who remain enrolled and depart the U.S. It is important to note that Customs and Border Protection has not provided updated guidance regarding procedures for reentry, including the five-month absence from the U.S.”

International student, Vaidik Trivedi, who lives off campus, was concerned about the initial reports of remote learning, but found comfort in having his own place not within the dorms — even though there are bans on going outside. 

“I don’t know what to do with my weekends now,” he said. “I think we need to deal with this logically, rather than focus on the mayhem.”

Trivedi added it was hard being on campus, with little communication coming from the administration and rumors spreading at a rapid rate. 

“The university created havoc … students didn’t know what was going on,” the 22-year-old said. “They could have communicated better with the students while the rumors caught on fire, especially with the international students. It was one week too late.”

Maria Tsapuik, a Junior Multidisciplinary Studies major is originally from Ukraine, which banned all commercial travel coming into the country March 17. The same day, Stony Brook shut down the dorms.

“I understand their decision to [close the dorms], but they should have told us earlier … before every country shut its borders and there is no way for us to get out,” she said.

She has filled out the form for an extended stay and is waiting for an answer from the university. If they do not grant her an extended stay,  she said she has someone to stay with.

While students are packing up to leave and find shelter in their homes away from the campus grounds, one thing all college students are feeling is a general sense of heartache that their year at school is being cut short. 

Frank Gargano, a senior, dormed on campus, but went home for spring break only to find out he had to drive back to school to pack up his room. 

“I’m half-mad that the housing money is essentially shot, and half-mad I can’t hang out with my friends as often as I could during my last semester,” he said. “I’m essentially robbed of my last semester.”

Even professors are feeling the changes coming to Stony Brook University, by placing their courses online with no physical student interaction. 

“It’s much less rewarding because I like to teach in a classroom and encourage students to speak up in class,” adjunct journalism professor Jon Friedman, said. “But I like to take on new challenges, and this is an enormous one.”

He added he feels badly for the students who are planning to graduate this May. 

“The last semester should be their happiest time and now they probably won’t be able to celebrate a normal commencement ceremony,” he said. “Throwing your cap in the air in triumph, in your backyard, doesn’t give a student the same kind of thrill.”

This post has been updated with additional reporting by Leah Chiappino

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The Bates House in Setauket was brimming with book and food lovers the evening of Sept. 24.

TBR News Media hosted its 2nd annual Cooks, Books & Corks event at the venue, with 100 ticket holders in attendance to chat with 17 authors and to sample entrées, desserts and beverages from 18 establishments. Cellist Alison Rowe was on hand to provide the background music.

The event was organized to raise funds for a paid intern for TBR’s six newspapers next summer. The intern will be selected from students attending Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. Ticket holders had the opportunity to stroll through the Bates House to sample food and chat with authors, as well as buy books. A few of the attending writers even took to the stage to describe their works to the audience.

During the event, publisher Leah Dunaief thanked the crowd for attending, and she said after last year’s Cooks, Books & Corks she received many compliments, including that it was a highly dignified event, and she hoped those in attendance found this one just as grand and exciting.

Laura Lindenfeld, interim dean of SBU School of Journalism and executive director of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, attended the event.

“What an important time to be involved in journalism,” she said, addressing the attendees.

Lindenfeld said the opportunity to work with SBU journalism students was amazing, and she said they tell “important stories grounded in truth.”

As the author of “Feasting Our Eyes: Food Films and Cultural Identity in the United States,” the interim dean said she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to attend Cooks, Books & Corks. She said those involved were building community, a word she said ties into communication.

“I love the idea that the word communication comes from the word community,” she said. “It’s about a sense of belonging, being together and making meaning together. And I can see that happening in this room here.”

Lindenfeld thanked the attendees for supporting the fundraiser for an intern to have the opportunity to get experience in the field.

“We just want to get them out in the world, telling good stories that make a difference and then help us really be open to change,” she said.