Seton Hall has been closed for almost all of the past three Mondays. One closing, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Jan. 19, was scheduled, but the other one and a half closings were due to severe weather conditions. In total, there have been two and a half closings due to weather this semester.
However, this did not necessarily stop professors from teaching and students from learning.
“I spoke with one student who indicated that his instructor was providing notes and comments online as well as posting assignments for students to submit. It wasn’t meant to be an online course, but technology can provide some alternatives when the weather doesn’t cooperate,” said Dr. Joan Guetti, the senior associate provost.
“I’m glad we had the days off, but my professors still assigned work online, so I spent most of the days doing work and sleeping in,” Alex Ryan, a junior Boland Hall resident, said in an email.
While some students may have been busy with extra assignments from their professors or making up some sleep, a network of faculty and staff work diligently to make campus and surrounding areas as safe and convenient to travel as possible for the community. When making the decision to close the University pending severe weather conditions, there are several sources of information to draw on, according to Dr. Guetti.
“Public Safety monitors traffic conditions on major roadways and the local conditions in South Orange. Weather alerts are also monitored,” Dr. Guetti said in an email.
The Facilities Engineering Department is responsible for all the roads, parking lots, walkways and steps that have to be cleared once the storm has passed.
Kristy Gonzalez, assistant vice president of Administration, and John Signorello, associate vice president for Facilities Engineering and Business Affairs, shed some light on Seton Hall’s snow removal procedures. The director of grounds in Facilities Engineering monitors the weather and determines when to bring in a team to handle the weather’s effects.
“The men are usually brought in one to two hours before the start of the storm. Additionally, if we have enough notice, the men can also pretreat sidewalks, roadways and parking lots to aid in clearing efforts,” they said.
Resident Luciano Cundari, a sophomore, said Seton Hall does a good job with snow removal in the parking lots. Cundari keeps a car on campus and commutes to an internship in Livingston three times a week.
“I left at 7:45 a.m. on Monday (Feb. 2) and it was pretty clear,” he said.
The department also works closely with the Village of South Orange regarding roadway conditions, school closings, etc. However, snow removal at off-campus locations is done by outside contractors under the direction of Facilities Engineering.
“At times, depending on the intensity of the storm and the accumulation of snow and ice, snow removal on campus may be supplemented by outside contractors with larger equipment,” Gonzalez and Signorello said.
One piece of equipment used is called a skid steer loader with an attached snow brush, used to remove up to an inch of snow on the sidewalks and walkways. When asked about the cost of the snow removal, they said the exact cost is unique to each snow storm and the response by the department is scaled accordingly. Some residents felt the weather was a major inconvenience, despite best efforts to remove snow and deice campus.
“As much as I loved having the days off classes, I still had places to be,” said Ryan, who needed to keep up with her training schedule since she is on the Seton Hall cross country team.
“This Monday was tough because campus was completely iced over, and I was really glad that I didn’t have anywhere to go but the gym because walking was horrible,” she said, taking note of the icy area around the University Green in particular.
While the resident said that students on campus could probably have gotten to class fine enough, she sympathized with the commuters and professors that would have a tougher time.
“I definitely think the weather warranted a few days off,” said Ryan.
In the same respect, Cundari agreed with the decisions to close the University.
“I’ve driven here (on campus) in the morning and it can get really packed, so I think a delay would have been good (on Tuesday, Feb. 3), but cancelling the whole day of classes would have been unnecessary,” he said.
Tina Figueroa, a sophomore, also agreed with Ryan.
“I think snow days are a necessary precaution for the commuters…some (commuters) drive for 40 to 50 minutes to get here! It’s better to be safe than sorry and campus was actually pretty icy,” Figueroa said.
Like Ryan, Figueroa liked to have the extra sleep and study time and said the only downfall was moving around campus.
“I don’t want to skate to the caf!…the last snow day I was prepared and had soup in my dorm instead of slipping outside,” she said.
Emily Balan can be reached at email@example.com.