Safety of Rutgers students is not a debatable topic
Living somewhere where the air hurts my face when I walk outside makes me question my life decisions everyday. In the end, there are some things in life that just seem unavoidable: Taxes, my beloved Cleveland Browns winning less than five games a year on a consistent basis, Rutgers not closing down during winter storms that rain snowflakes the size of Flappy Bird. Let’s face it — the struggle-bus is real. Every single student at Rutgers is riding it right now, and we all know our “favorite” multivariable calculus teacher isn’t driving. I would rather have our bus stuck underneath of a random pile of partial differentiation equations than the depths of the vast wilderness that is the Cook and Douglass campuses during these past few ice ages that have hit New Jersey.
I’ve always held the long-term conviction that Rutgers loves each and every one its precious massively overpopulated Indian students (and everyone else too), so you could imagine my dissatisfaction at the four-hour ride back to my off-campus house during these Antarctic-esque conditions, without as so much as a complimentary samosa from our dear university. I am not asking for love letter on Valentine’s Day from University President Robert L. Barchi — even though one would be greatly appreciated — but rather the simple decisive action to close Rutgers during projected storms that threaten the safety of students. Of course, the logistical matter of shutting down Rutgers for a day is far greater than my competence or attention span can handle, however, an enhanced system of announcing delays via text messages or another similar method needs to be implemented to ensure this stream of information is readily available to the all those in dire need of it.
While the weather is an uncontrollable force that fluctuates, to change the time of delays last minute is unacceptable for those students that have already left their residence to find their respective classes empty. Generally, accurate weather patterns can be predicted a day in advance, which should allow for at least an eight-hour notification prior to closing, not 20 minutes before the class actually starts. Contrary to popular belief, teachers do not sleep within the hidden chambers of Alexander Library. Many of them have to travel great distances to reach their desired classes on time, and while the University may be too steadfast and resilient to close, they certainty won’t be. With power outages that have left many buildings without power on some days, it is hard to become enlightened without any source of light.
As teachers were certainly once our age in the one of the previous three centuries, maintaining contact with them and explaining to them your predicament is essential during an emergency situation so that it may have the least harmful impact on your safety as well as your grade. That being said, there is no substitute for common sense in cases where your safety is in jeopardy, as your life is not a consolation prize for obtaining those two clicker points during a lecture you normally end up sleeping through anyway. If you personally feel unsafe traveling from your residence I beg you to make the reasonable decision and not leave those comfy Lynton Towers, not for your family, not for your respectable degree-earning GPA, but for yourself.
In the end, while we all have a personal duty to ourselves to ensure our safety, this does not alleviate the University’s responsibility to provide for an academically sound safe-haven for both commuter and residential students. Based on the number of traffic accidents in conjunction with freezing bodies that wait desperately for hour-long bus delays, there needs to be drastic measures taken for the well-being of students and teachers in the case of weather-related disasters that strike Rutgers. We are a university unlike any other, with our commuter-heavy population along with vast transportation in place to get from campus to campus, the University must be more invested in protecting the interests of our diverse population.
By taking a more proactive approach, the Rutgers community can foster a culture where we create a reputable balance of educational integrity with healthy, vibrant learning environment. While the matter of closing down due to inclement weather may be logistically above our heads and in the control of some higher being beyond our realm of comprehension, leading a society where students can feel safe going to class is not. Does the life of a member of our valued community really need to hang in the balance before actual change becomes implemented? This is not a game of Russian Roulette, the actions that the University forges today can set a precedent for the cornerstone of change for future Scarlet Knights, and that is something worth striving for.
A university without its students is no real university at all, and if that happens, well, we would be … Louisville. We love Rutgers to death (not literally), so please do our historic community the justice it deserves, and take note of the voices of the few, before it is too late to do so.
Sabri Rafi is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.