As students, as much as we love unlocking our phones to a school cancellation text, we know that snow days are probably academically hurtful in the long-run. Lessons get cancelled and homework is pushed back, the resulting pile-up is hard on students and professors. However, in situations like this past week with Nor’easter Jonas occurring over the weekend, the University made the right decisions in cancelling University operations and classes Saturday and Sunday, and calling a delayed opening on Monday.
During the nearly record-breaking storm, 11 states declared a state of emergency, including New Jersey. Additionally, throughout the scope of the storm as of now it is known that over 40 people have died in its wake due to weather-related causes. New York City called for a city-wide travel ban and here in the Village of South Orange a street-parking ban was put into effect.
Cancelling classes is a hard decision, but it shows that the University has the safety of the students, faculty and professors in mind. Over the past three years unusually frequent snowstorms have rocked the east coast. In the past the University, erring on the side of caution, has had either seemingly unnecessary cancellations, or instead delayed cancellations when they should have closed, leaving commuters trapped in dangerous travel conditions. As increasingly severe storms become the new norm, it seems as though the University has finally begun to develop a successful and safe plan for handling dangerous weather.
The fact that snow was cleared enough to open campus on Monday was extremely efficient, however this is not to say that there isn’t more the University could do to accommodate students. For example, when South Orange enacts a street parking ban it would be helpful to allow off-campus students to park in the parking deck; there is definitely enough space. As efficient as SHU was in clearing snow, the Village was not in some places. Many side streets remained unclear for days, leaving some commuters stranded.
Also, it would be helpful if the University helped clear sidewalks contiguous to campus by the start of classes. May commuters that walk to campus were forced to walk in the street, putting them in danger of traffic in an already narrower-than-usual street.
Snow days are circumstantial. Some, like Jonas, prove to be worth the hype, while others miss the area completely. In this situation the storm was handled well. Scientists predict that severe storms will most likely come with greater frequency. The situation this past week showed that we are finally on the right track, but hopefully the University will keep improving its winter weather plans.