- General Overview
SUNY Stony Brook is located in the state of New York, in the Suffolk County on Long Island.
In terms of rank among the SUNYs, Stony Brook usually places second, behind SUNY Binghamton, though this clearly depends on what you plan to major in. Stony Brook is known for their emphasis on the biological sciences (there is, after all, the hospital), computer science, and engineering. It's also apparently #1 in anthropology, though why this is so is beyond me. Its humanities, however, can be passed off as a laughable joke.
Because of its hospital and strong graduate program, Stony Brook has an enormous research budget. What they spend it on is completely unknown to most Stony Brook undergraduate students.
- Useless History
Stony Brook was founded in 1957 as a secondary school teacher preparatory course. The actual campus itself dates from 1962, on land donated by Ward Melville. There's really nothing more you need to know about this school.
Its current president is Shirley Strum Kenny, a lady who is trotted out every so often during fancy festivals (read: graduation) and is mysteriously absent on campus most of the time.
- The Odd and the Quirky
Stony Brook is full of architectural mistakes. For a school that has a very strong mechanical and electrical engineering program, it would be well advised for them to start a decent civil engineering program while they're at it. Some are:
- Melville Library
The building plan for the Melville Library was rotated by 90 degrees by some clueless construction company, and thus, the "front" of the library actually faces out in front of the courtyard by Staller Center of Arts instead of the road by the Student Union. Now, this wouldn't be such a big problem had it not been for the fact that there was supposed to be a bridge between the Melville Library front entrance and the 2nd floor of the Student Union. They built the bridge overpass; however, without a front entrance, the bridge spanning the two buildings does not actually serve a purpose... thus coining the name "Bridge to Nowhere". Due to budget constraints and an apparent lack of willingness to repair the bridge, Stony Brook demolished the bridge in Summer 2002; remains of the bridge can be seen from one of the side entrances of the Melville Library.
April 2004 Update: My worst fears have been realized. I used to walk past the remains of the bridge (stopped over by a very flimsy wood fence) and think, gee, that's an awfully easy place to jump.... Apparently in Fall 2003, a person did commit suicide there. How terrible. I wish that Stony Brook had a better counseling and outreach program; I've seen my fair share of terrible things in the dorms.
- Javits Center
The material used to build the Javits building was meant for that of the Student Union, and vice versa. Thus the fairly sturdy shape of the Student Union, compared to the crumbly bits of Javits. (bonus note: I'm convinced there is no 90 degree angle anywhere in Javits; walking up the stairways inside Javits induces a sense of vertigo. Your inner ear is telling you that you're standing perpendicular to the ground; the rest of your body is telling you that you're standing slightly tilted. It's awful.)
- H-Quad, James Building
James has an A, C, and D wing. Where is the B wing, you ask? If you observe closely, building a B wing would ram right into the walls of the building next door, Langmuir. I believe the Langmuir building also lacks a wing like James. (note: this may or may not be an architectural error; it's based on observational evidence, since I did live in James for a while. The other theory is that Langmuir and James were supposed to be connected, ala Benedict style, but they ran out of money or something such foolery Stony Brook is famous for.)
- Undergraduate Apartments, Building B
UGA B is built slightly different from the rest, partly because they built it too damn close to A. It's missing a wing. (note: This is very recent (2002). One hopes that the second set of undergraduate apartments don't suffer a fate similar to the first set.)
- The Fountain
I don't think this has any other name. It is a fountain smack in the middle of campus, right in front of the Administration Building (and sort of continues in a miniature river thing a little bit further away). This is not so much of an architectural mistake as it is an architectural monstrosity. One, it does not hold water. Two, it cost one milllllllyon dollars, an unjustified cost considering that we could have used that money to install more blue lights on campus (hello, rape, anyone? I recall Roth Quad having a problem with that...). Three, it's never on. Those glossy brochures with pictures of the flowing fountain are taken during the summer, the only time it's on (to impress the visiting parents/students touring, doncha know).
The Power of the Freedom of Information Act!: Because Stony Brook is a state institution, it's subject to state laws. Sometime in 2001, some assistant professor (name, anyone? I just remember he taught CSE 113 one semester and it wasn't Professor Wildenberg) used the Freedom of Information Act to get the salaries of every single person on campus who made above $30k (mostly professors). Now, this wouldn't be such an alarming thing, but this nameless professor decided to post it on his website. Everyone and their pet puppy downloaded this baby, to hilarious results. Students could see that crappy teachers made six figures and some truly nice teachers half that. The head janitor makes more money than most of the IT department. To this day, this list resides on the resident "I hate Stony Brook" webpage, stonybrooksucks.com.
The Bamboo Forest: You heard me right. If you should wander around the edge of Kelly Quad, in the parking lot next to the parking lot of the Stony Brook LIRR station, you will come across a small road leading into the woods. I believe it's a type of hiking or dirt bike path of some sort; I have no clue how far it goes because I never went very deeply in - my assumption is that it'll go to at least the St. James LIRR station if you are willing to walk that far. But if you should follow that path for perhaps five or six minutes, the natural flora of Long Island disappear, to be replaced by a small grove of bamboo. Yes. There is a bamboo forest smack dab in the middle of a normal forest. I don't know how it got there, and I don't know how long it's been there. From what I understand of it, bamboo is actually a terrible weed, but you know, most people imagine bamboo forests in, say, China and not in the middle of the United States unless it's for a zoo or something. Most people hear about this forest but never actually see it, unless they participate in the arcane and bizarre rituals of rushing for a fraternity (or sorority).
The Pagoda: In Spring of 2003, the Wang Center (insert snicker at such awful name here) was finally completed, after god knows how many years it was unfinished (7? 8? I know it was at least 7 because a senior told me she saw it under construction since she was a freshman when I was a freshman). Since it was meant to house the Asian-American studies for Stony Brook, they built a giant, stylized pagoda as part of the building. Frankly, it looks like a Lego piece gone horribly wrong. It has no use and despite its towering height, nobody can go up. I expect that its main function will be for students to point at and ask, "What the hell is that supposed to be?"
Strawberry Festival: Stony Brook has a Strawberry Festival every year during the Spring semester during Campus Lifetime (i.e., Wednesday of some month, usually April). For the low, low price of ~$7, a single ticket buys you every single kind of delectable strawberry treat you can think of: strawberry drinks (usually Fruitopia), a pint of fresh strawberries, strawberry shortcake, strawberry cheesecake, strawberry ice cream, strawberry ices... you get the idea. This is a festival where it's best to go early, as the lines get incredibly long later in the day. You become thoroughly sick of strawberries by the end of the day, but it's a type of masochism you go back for every year.
Roth Regatta: Also part of the Spring semester festivities. Usually held on a Friday afternoon. It's a race across the slimy Roth pond by different teams in handmade boats. What makes this so unusual, you ask? The
boats must be made out of cardboard, duct tape, and other sundry accessories. Usually the winner of this is some guy swimming with a pizza box (much to the chagrin of the engineering department).
Midnight Breakfast: Midnight Breakfast occurs once per semester, during final exams. It's exactly that: breakfast at midnight. Located at the Student Union this breakfast is free for all, and consists of eggs, bacon, pancakes, hash browns of some sort, donuts, bagels, juice, and some sort of ice cream dessert. In the year 2000, Midnight Breakfast used to be $6.50 for all who wanted to go, but the incredibly high costs of food on campus and unfair meal plan options caused a ruckus and Chartwells, Stony Brook's supplier, made Midnight Breakfast free to all to appease the angry (note: Cornell students, despite the fact Stony Brook's meal plan is more than half the cost of yours, please don't snicker; it's still a lot of money). This is also one of those things where it's best to go early; there aren't all that many seats in the Union to sit at, after all.
I-CON: Stony Brook is home to I-CON, the largest sci-fi and fantasy convention on the east coast. Despite the heavy Asian population on campus, I-CON does not really have a strong anime presence, as compared to some other conventions (more people cosplay as some medieval barmaid here than, say, a catgirl from Escaflowne). For three days every year, the campus is overrun with unwashed, slightly portly geeks of all walks of life. This is by no means a bad thing; it makes the campus livelier, and it's a treat during the nights for young men in search of hentai pron (since it plays continuously throughout the night in Javits).
Staller Summer Film Festival: This is the one big event that most students never see. During the month of July, Staller Center hosts a two week film festival that features approximately 40 independent movies, playing every night from 7 PM to 10 PM throughout the entire two weeks. Both the start and the end of the film festival is capped off with a reception with munchies and occasionally an actor or director visiting. This is hosted at Staller Center, whose main attraction is that it happens to be the largest screen in Long Island. For about $30, students can watch all the films and generally enjoy themselves, especially if they're a fan of independent movies. It's very much a pity that most students are busy doing other things in, well, July.
So You Want to Go Here? Some Advice For You
-If you are a budding science/math person, and you're thinking about going here, by all means go ahead. However, you must be fairly sure you are definitely going into math/science because the humanities here is a joke. A very laughable joke.
-Philosophy and psychology are the most popular majors here, followed by (guessing here) computer science and information science, then probably either by biology and chemistry.
-As a corollary to the above majors, please do consider psychology. Though it's said to be the most popular major on campus, I do recommend the major for slightly better reasons: I have yet to meet a teacher I wasn't entertained by. Every single damn professor was funny, informative, and best of all, really seemed to enjoy teaching. (Bonus: your first textbook is cowritten by a teacher on campus and Philip Zimbardo. Yes, that Zimbardo.)
-There is no life on weekends. Once upon a time, Stony Brook was a party school, but no longer. Since a large majority of students here come from New York City, a 2 hour, $11 LIRR ride into Queens/Brooklyn/Manhattan is what everyone does on weekends. Partying here occurs on Thursday, rather than Friday night, due to this.
-For free food, work in any one of the food courts. The students who work in any of them are probably the most jaded people you'll ever meet. They'll also be the greatest unhanged scoundrels on campus, as the amount they steal from the meal halls alone probably justifies the high cost of food. Cashiers are your best friend. I have fond memories of walking out of stores with cases of drinks and not having spent a single dime.
-Unless you are a honor student of some sort, don't choose to live in Roth. I know the brochures they send to incoming students, and they make Roth out to be some charming, romantic place with its pond. Don't do it. Remember, on top of there being no air conditioning in any of the normal dorms (this may change in the near future, but otherwise you won't get any unless you are a) in the UGA or b) a honors student), please remember this little fact: mosquitoes need stagnant water to breed. The Roth Pond is artificially made, never mind the fact there really are fish in there. Make your deductions from that.
I will add to this later, as soon as I can think of something.