An email from the University’s Weather Decision Group sent at 11:58 a.m. announced class cancellations and cruiser system suspensions beginning at noon on Friday, Feb. 7, leaving many students who rely on the cruisers to get to and from class stranded in severe weather conditions. “Heavy snow and poor driving conditions” caused the sudden mid-day action by the Weather Decision Group, which also dismissed nonessential campus department and office employees beginning at noon.
Director of Environmental Health and Safety Mary Williams said that the Weather Decision Group’s procedure for last Friday’s closure was no different from normal procedure. She clarified that the group did not have jurisdiction over the cruiser cancelations, which were made independently by FirstTransit.
“When the Weather Decision Group members received notice that the cruisers would stop running all routes by noon, then the decision was promptly made to cancel classes,” Williams said.
According to the email, snow had been falling at a rate of little over an inch per hour since 10:00 a.m. and was expected to continue until 1:00 p.m. The additional risk of blowing snow, possible wind gusts as high as 33 mph and falling temperatures further contributed to the unsafe weather and road conditions which led to the cancelling of campus operations.
The email also cited the necessity of essential personnel, while also expressing the University’s willingness to support individual decisions made in regards to personal safety.
“Every effort will be made to accommodate essential personnel who feel that it is unsafe to travel,” the email said.
Many students expressed frustration with the University’s handling of the situation, citing issues such as inadequate planning and implementation of safety precautions, as well as a lack of warning given with a sufficient amount of time.
Sophomore Jessica Argento said her roommates had to walk over half a mile from their classes back to the townhouses in Friday’s blizzarding conditions. Argento said she feels it is unfair that students must attend classes and arrange their own transportation to do so when weather conditions are too dangerous for the cruisers to be running.
“If they’re cancelling cruisers, then they should be cancelling classes,” Argento said.
In addition to the lack of transportation, many students felt as though the University did not properly handle snow and ice removal from on-campus pathways.
Sophomore Kristen Miquel said her route to her two morning classes was particularly unsafe in Friday’s weather.
“They don’t salt the walkways from my dorms to the quad,” Miquel said. “I was slipping and falling all over the place. I was late to class actually because I had such a hard time getting down [the paths].”
Miquel mentioned the dissatisfaction she and her peers felt regarding the University’s failure to take proper safety precautions on Friday morning, putting forth potential solutions that the University could have carried out.
“I think they could have prematurely salted the pathways, it would have been an easy solution,” Miquel said.
Miquel also echoed Argento’s sentiment in regards to the cruiser cancellations and the effect on students ability to travel.
“They could have given students a 30 minute warning before stopping the routes, which would have given students the opportunity to get back to their dorms,” Miquel said.
Junior Georgie von Furth further emphasized the lack of warning, saying she feels the University could do a better job of informing students when to expect major snow removals, which would allow individuals to more strategically and efficiently park their cars.
“I feel that the way the snow removal functions and upper and lower campus is really, really inconsistent and often leaves snow piled up behind cars, which leaves students without access to their own vehicles,” Von Furth said.
The University also closed Trudy Fitness Center at 12:30 p.m., and the COOP and Chobani at Hieber Café at 3:00 p.m. on Friday due to the severe weather and road conditions. Frank Dining Hall remained open with regular hours and Case-Geyer Library remained open until 8:00 p.m. Campus events and activities proceeded as scheduled unless cancelled by respective event organizers, according to the email. Among these cancelled events were the Impeachment Seminar hosted by Professor Stephanie Miner, the former mayor of Syracuse, and the 100 Days to Graduation Celebration hosted by the Senior Class Giving Committee at the Good Nature Brewing Tap Room. The Impeachment Seminar has since been rescheduled for Thursday, February 13 at 4:30 p.m. in 108 Persson Hall. The 100 Days to Graduation Celebration has yet to be rescheduled.
Friday marked the second time this academic year that the University canceled classes due to severe weather.