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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Inside St. John’s University’s Plan To Retain Staten Island Students Post-Closure

The Staten Island campus will shut its doors in Spring 2024, but the University hopes to transition students to Queens.
The Residence Village path on the St. John’s University Queens campus.
Torch Photo / Brady Snyder

When St. John’s University’s Staten Island campus closes after the Spring 2024 semester, the school’s administration hopes the freshmen and sophomores currently studying there will relocate to the Queens campus. The University has operated a satellite campus in Staten Island for the last 50 years, with the main campus located in Jamaica, Queens. 

To make that proposition feasible for Staten Island students, St. John’s is offering a financial aid package that goes beyond what the University typically offers. The aid is supported by the “Staten Island Heritage Endowment Fund,” which allocates $1 million in scholarships to Staten Island students who transition to Queens, the University announced in a press release.

“We’re putting together a pretty enticing package for them to be able to come,” said St. John’s President Brian Shanley on the likelihood of Staten Island students continuing their studies in Queens, in a January 2023 interview. “If we’re going to get them to stay at St. John’s and graduate, we think we’re going to have to find a way to get them to live here.”

University spokesperson Brian Browne said that St. John’s is “more or less” offering free housing to Staten Island students who want to live on the Queens campus starting in the Fall 2024 semester, but noted that the details were still being ironed out as of January 2023. 

The University is conducting focus groups and student surveys to gauge interest, but Shanley said it was too soon to tell how many students will take up the offer.

When contacted in April 2023, the University would not confirm that Staten Island students are being offered free housing, despite Browne’s earlier comments. 

“It is hard to speak of specific benefits as each student and their situation varies,” Browne said in an email. “Regular outreach and engagement with impacted students are ongoing, and the University is making various accommodations for Staten Island Campus students based upon feedback from impacted students and their families during multiple listening sessions.”  

The University hopes that the transition from Staten Island to Queens will be smooth, since all academic programs offered on Staten Island are simultaneously offered on the Queens campus. To limit the disruption of students’ academic careers, St. John’s is offering accelerated degree programs, five-year programs and summer courses to Staten Island students. 

“The Academic Task Force and multiple members of the St. John’s community are working individually with each student to make the transition to Queens as smooth and transparent as possible either as a new resident student in Queens or as a commuter,” Browne added.

“From a lot of the underclassmen that I’ve heard from, if they’ve not had the opportunity to graduate early, they are seriously thinking and probably going to the Queens campus,” said Ang Brusgard, secretary of The Bolt, the student multimedia production organization of the Staten Island campus, in a February 2023 phone interview. 

Staten Island students are being told that their tuition — which is significantly cheaper than that of students on the Queens campus — will remain the same if they relocate. This reflects the University’s initial statement on an FAQ page titled “Staten Island Teach-Out,” where St. John’s says students will keep their current tuition, including aid for any program-specific rate differentials, if they remain continuously-enrolled in a degree program.  

“It’s the freshman and sophomores that we’re concerned about,” Shanley said. “We want to retain those students.”

The decision to close the Staten Island campus was preceded by internal discussions regarding the campus’ future that spanned at least a decade, according to Shanley. Before that, the University did not renew the lease on its Hauppauge campus in Long Island in July 2022 — which replaced the Oakdale campus that was sold in 2016 for $22.5 million. 

“We still have a footprint in Manhattan,” Shanley said. “And I think we need to think about the viability of that footprint going forward.”

St. John’s is shifting its focus towards the Queens campus, but it remains to be seen whether freshman and sophomore Staten Island students will finish their programs at the University. 

“I think that the University’s resources are better used in Queens than Staten Island, given the number of students on Staten Island,” Shanley said.

Correction: In a previous version of this story, the subhead wrote that the Staten Island campus will close at the end of the Spring 2023 semester. The Staten Island campus will close at the end of the Spring 2024 semester, and this error has been fixed.

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Brady Snyder
Brady Snyder, Editor-in-Chief
Brady is a senior journalism student currently serving as Editor-in-Chief. He joined The Torch in 2021, and previously served as Sports Editor. Outside of The Torch, Brady covers consumer technology and new innovations for ScreenRant, where he has nearly 100 published articles. When he isn’t writing, Brady is usually running or catching a sporting event. Brady can be reached at [email protected]
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  • R

    Rachel HollanderApr 19, 2023 at 6:28 pm

    The headline incorrectly says SI will close in spring 2023. It should be corrected to match the first line of the article — closing in spring 2024. Appreciate the coverage of our campus.