Students, faculty question a snowy situation

Students worked more than a foot of snow into snowmen and sculptures. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

Like powdered sugar being sifted over a carnival funnel cake, snow steadily sprinkled the College’s campus on Wednesday night.

Unexpected phenomena, like a hailstorm and a snowy thunderstorm, also occurred.

The end result? A phone call around 5:20 a.m. on Thursday morning to those who subscribe to the College’s emergency alert system and an e-mail at 5:45 a.m., confirming the inevitable — a snow day.

With more than 15 inches accumulated on the ground, the robotic recording brought a sigh of relief, as it announced, “All classes are cancelled and offices are closed at (the College) on Thursday, January 27.”

But who decides when to close school, and why does it take such a seemingly long time to arrive at what many assume is an obvious decision?

According to information provided in an e-mail sent out by the College Relations Department, the provost or executive/vice president is the final decision-maker but first consults others of authority, including Campus Facilities, the College’s grounds crew, Campus Police, the Mercer County Office of Emergency Management and administrators at nearby institutions.

The College usually tries to get the decision out via e-mail, its official website, the phone alert system and local media outlets by around 5:15 a.m., the Emergency Management section of the College’s website states.

According to the Emergency Management section, in the case of “inclement weather,” factors weighed include the predicted snowfall and whether it will be heavy at the start and end of classes, the wind and its effect on campus roads and walkways and lastly, the overall conditions of the streets and highways.

“A decision to open, delay or close will rarely satisfy all students, faculty and staff,” explains the College Relations Department’s Emergency Management: Inclement Weather statement. “Students on campus who can easily get to class may wonder why the College is closed, while those living off campus question a decision to stay open as they cannot safely navigate roads.”

The statement goes on to explain that when the school remains open, there still may be areas unreached by a plow; plowed walkways are not “guaranteed,” but “the majority are considered clear of snow.”

In making decisions, the school believes “safety is paramount, and each individual needs to consider personal safety in deciding whether to come to campus. Finally, decisions to open or close are based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate,” the statement said.

While the school closed Thursday and had an early dismissal on Wednesday Jan. 26, Student Affairs still provided plenty of activities to occupy students.

The aroma of buttered popcorn lingered in the Brower Student Center, as BSC Staff handed out hot chocolate and bags of popcorn, while playing movies on a large projection screen.

Films included “Inception,” “Despicable Me,” “The Other Guy” and “Get Him to the Greek.”

Student Affairs also held a snow-sculpting contest, where the winners of various categories, such as “most creative sculpture” and “silliest sculpture,” would receive $50 gift

Students left the comfort of their dorms last Wednesday night to enjoy some fun in the snow in anticipation of class cancellations the next day. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

cards to local restaurants.

The biggest crowd-pleaser seemed to be Bingo games hosted by the Residence Hall Association on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.

Even from outside Room 202 of the Student Center, enthusiastic cheers and chatter could be heard, as an entire roomful of people participated in an activity typically geared toward the elderly.

“I came to win. I want to win prizes,” Elena Curcio, sophomore fine arts major, said, before entering the crowded room.

Five hundred dollars worth of gift certificates were awarded, including $5 gift cards to Dunkin Donuts, $10 to Barnes and Noble and $25 to P.F. Chang’s, which caused the crowd to erupt in applause when announced.

“Bingo’s fun and exciting, but frustrating if you keep losing,” Chika Akparanta, sophomore biology major, said. “But I’m happy that the school offers activities to do on snow days, because I don’t know what else I’d be doing otherwise.”

Jamie Primeau can be reached at primeau2@tcnj.edu.