Editorial: Winter storm disrupts campus

On Tuesday, around 1:45 in the afternoon, an announcement went up on the Rider University Web site saying that all classes were canceled for Wednesday, and university offices would be closed. The early warning was appreciated by some. But it also gave students the idea that no work needed to be done Tuesday afternoon or all day Wednesday. When Rider announced that there would be no classes, resident advisors all over campus braced to break up parties and document noise violations.

Letting students know so far in advance that they will have an unexpected day off was like giving them an excuse to run out to the liquor store, buy some alcohol and party the day away. Rider should have waited until later in the day to post the announcement. Or, of course, they could have waited until it actually started snowing on Tuesday night to cancel class.

To those who were partying, this snow day seemed like a blessing. But reality soon hit and students started to wonder whether they should celebrate the snow or hate it.

Being the first snow day of the semester, everyone was excited to be able to sleep in on Wednesday and have the day off. But that excitement soon wore off when lunchtime came around. One look outside and it became clear that students would either have to leave their warm dorm rooms to eat, or warm something up in the microwave. Many braved the less than perfect weather and walked to Daly’s, which, thanks to the dedicated staff, was one of the few places on campus that was still open. Then, early in the afternoon, the snow returned, this time bringing wind, sleet and slush with it. Now, it was a question of whether people would be leaving their dorms at all.

On Wednesday around 7:35 p.m., the university sent out an e-mail announcing a delayed opening on Thursday. With the weather as bad as it was and with such a large commuter population, Rider should have canceled all Thursday classes. Major highways weren’t even completely plowed, let alone local roads.

The e-mail announcement said that all classes would begin at 11 a.m. On the Lawrenceville campus, there are no 11 a.m. classes, only classes from 9:45 a.m. to 11:15. Administrators should know this and take it into consideration when alerting students. Does an 11 a.m. opening mean students and professors with a 9:45 a.m. class should report to class from 11:00 to 11:15 a.m.? It shouldn’t be this difficult to make plans for a delayed opening.

On campus, Facilities workers were on the job quickly, salting the sidewalks and plowing the streets. But the storm was so severe that working through the night hardly made a difference. The snow continued to cover the sidewalks and was a safety hazard for those who actually did go out. Eventually, thanks to the staff’s hard work, the streets were cleared on campus, but many off-campus streets were still impassable. E-mails warning of low attendance at classes, or faculty’s inability to leave home, meant teachers, not administrators, had to take responsibility for canceling.

Of course, there isn’t much that can be done to stop Mother Nature. But Rider could have handled the situation better, by announcing the Wednesday closing too late for students to head to the liquor store and by staying closed long enough for students and faculty to dig out.

This weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News editorial board and is written by the Opinion Editor, Angelique Lee.

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