“Out of an abundance of caution, we’re giving a majority of students a four day weekend.” Stony Brook’s Emergency Management team didn’t say it outright, but for a lot of students, that’s exactly how the email announcing that Thursday classes were canceled was read.
Like last year, when out of an abundance of caution classes were canceled from Winter Storm Jonas, Stony Brook saw almost a foot of snow hit its campus. This was a pleasant revelation on a campus where days off are few and far between.
The university did a great job announcing classes were canceled and dealing with the snow as it fell. But the handling of the aftermath of the storm left much to be desired.
I was sitting in the North Reading Room when I got the emergency text alert. I had been procrastinating on completing an assignment that was due the next day, but with one little ping, my heart grew three sizes like the Grinch on Christmas. I commend the university for having the common decency to not leave procrastinators like myself or commuters, who need to know in advance if classes are canceled, hanging over night.
Canceling classes the day before gave professors and students ample time to plan and move assignments around. Walking around campus after word got out was like being in Times Square on V-J day – there was genuine excitement among students and faculty alike.
There was a mad dash to get off campus. The Long Island Rail Road platform for both the 4:16 p.m. and 6:49 p.m. trains into the city were overflowing with students desperate to escape the clutches of campus during a snowstorm. This was only possible because students were given ample time to prepare for the storm.
University staff worked hard throughout the duration of the storm, making sure that the roads were clear even though residents of Long Island were advised not to go out during the storm. Plows ran consistently throughout the day, and staff was out shoveling high foot traffic areas to make sure it was safe to get around.
Unlike years past, when there had been less thorough walkway clearance, I have to say that a solid job was done, both in notifying people on campus and keeping the campus as safe as possible during the storm. With the major headaches out of the way, the snow wasn’t a nuisance. I’d go as far as to say that it was nice. With the sheen of white snow over it, the campus didn’t look half bad.
But after the initial snow cleanup, there were a few things that stuck out. First and foremost, the only dining halls open during the snow day were East and West Side Dining, leaving those who aren’t a fan of the dine-in system with few options. But the real problem is what happened on Monday.
Because it was substantially warmer on Sunday than days prior, some of the snow began to melt and run off. You don’t realize how sloped much of the campus is until you see a current of water running down Circle Road at a breakneck pace.
All of that runoff froze overnight, turning a significant portion of walkways into western Canada. It was so bad outside my building I had to hold onto a railing and slide down the path in Roosevelt Quad. If I had dared walk I would have eaten dirt. What’s more, the fire escape balconies in my building, Keller, still had ice on them days later
By Monday afternoon most of the icy walkways had been salted and the ice dissipated. But there were patches of black ice catching unsuspecting pedestrians and unceremoniously introducing people to pavement.
All in all, storm management itself was handled very well, but the response to the ensuing freezing over of high-traffic areas on campus was lacking. If the next snowstorm hits and the university is more thorough about post-storm management, I’ll be filled with an abundance of appreciation.