For some students at Suffolk County Community College’s Eastern Campus, finding a spot in the computer lab, until recently, meant getting there very early, very late or when classes were in session.
“I actually had to cut a few classes during finals [to use a computer],” said student government vice president Nathaniel Raffloer of Mastic. Mr. Raffloer said he has had little choice when writing papers, because he does not own a computer.
Finding a computer should be much less of a problem with the opening of the campus’s $14.5 million Montaukett Learning Resource Center. Construction on the 40,000-square-foot library, which features a lecture hall, study rooms for small groups and twice as many computers as the old library, began last April and was recently completed.
It is the first new building at the Northampton campus in 34 years.
The building received a silver certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which ensures that buildings adhere to strict environmental standards. Officials hope it will be upgraded to the highest gold certification.
Elected officials, Eastern Campus executive dean Evon Walters and college president Shaun McKay spoke about the project during a ribbon-cutting ceremony inside the library Friday afternoon. Members of the Montaukett tribe also gave the building a native blessing.
“Yes, it’s a beautiful building,” Legislator Ed Romaine said during the ceremony. “But I look even further at the students who will use it and I see Suffolk’s future.”
Suffolk County and New York State split the cost of the project.
Suffolk Community College alum Brian Linnen of Riverhead noted the expansion was especially needed at the campus since enrollment at the public institution has swelled from about 3,200 to 4,000 students in the poor economy.
Student space was sparse at the school, forcing many students to study in the noisy cafeteria, he said.
Mr. Linnen is also hoping the new learning center will encourage more students to want to stay on campus, instead of heading straight home after class, and get involved in extracurricular activities. He said he is happy that the library’s services will be available for younger generations, including his younger brother, Christopher, who is an Eastern Campus student.
“It’s not a luxury,” he said of the new center. “It’s a necessity.”