August 18, 2019 | 83° F

Jonas drops 27 inches of burden for Rutgers students

Opinions Column: Digital Canvas

You wake up in the morning, pajamas still inside out, spoon cold under your pillow and you jump up from the comfort of your bed to look outside and see what mother nature has bestowed upon us. Lo and behold, there is snow covering every inch of the ground. It’s a white wonderland! You spend the day inside, maybe watching movies and drinking hot cocoa, snuggling in a warm blanket. An entire day passes with snowflakes perpetually falling from the sky. Sunday morning rolls around, and the snow has stopped. After a day of relaxation, it is finally time to start shoveling outside.

I would imagine this scene sounds like your typical snow day, one that involves staying cozy indoors until you are forced to help plow the driveway or shovel a sidewalk. Thousands of college kids with no parents around to keep them shoveling may alter that scene slightly, but you still get the idea. In any case, this is exactly what occurred when Winter Storm Jonas hit this past Saturday. However, the approximated 6 to 12 inches of powder that was expected quickly turned into 27 inches of dense snowfall. In suburban neighborhoods or big cities, this might not seem as bad as it truly is. Dad might take out the snowblower, and city hall will send out staff to plow the streets day and night consistently — ultimately everyone will be sitting pretty with their clean streets and salted pavement.

Now put yourself in the shoes of a Rutgers student, living in a house that might not even have a shovel or salt, with cars parked on every available spot on the street that will most certainly get blocked in. From 1 a.m. on Saturday, the Rutgers staff was hard at work throughout the storm to keep up with the accumulation. Reportedly, some even worked into the next morning, returning after 5 in the morning. And although everyone on campus and in the New Brunswick area is more than thankful for our staff’s efforts and their continued cleanup through the week, there is not much to be thankful for. With the lack of efforts New Brunswick and Middlesex County departments of public works have made, it is hard for commuters and off-campus students to make it to and from class without difficulty. Streets like Senior Street and Richardson Street were minimally plowed and still have at least 6 inches of snow covering them, with sidewalks closed in from the initial snow removal Saturday night. Students walk to class from their homes and dorms with the hopes that they won’t be unlucky enough to slip on slush or ice and break a leg.

If there was one thing that could have been done differently in regards to both the storm and the safety of students, it should have been the way the University communicated with us. We watched 27 inches fall from the sky for two days and expected the Rutgers administration to bestow some sympathy upon us for having to deal with the aftermath of it all. After spending an entire day soaking our thickest socks and sweatpants in mounds of snow, Sunday afternoon we finally received an email concerning how the school was going to move forward. 

Due to the storm, Rutgers—Newark was given a delayed opening that eventually led to the day off due to the lingering effects of the blizzard, while the Camden and New Brunswick campuses remained open. And although we all hoped to get notified Monday morning that classes would in fact be canceled, New Brunswick still kept its doors open, even with a campus doubling that of Newark’s, and therefore with double the snow. How does it make sense to keep school in session when some of the roadways still haven’t been completely plowed? Many of us felt truly blindsided by the effects of the blizzard and how miserable our everyday commutes would actually become. 

College Avenue sidewalks are still ankle deep and buses run up to 50 minutes late on the daily. Many professors canceled their own classes willingly knowing the conditions and some that still decided to teach spoke to rooms only half full or dismissed students early. A delayed opening would have benefited professors, students and staff in trying to clean up school grounds more efficiently. However, since classes were not delayed, at the very least the administration could have told us knee high goulashes would be a necessary accessory to make it to Scott Hall and back in one piece for the rest of the week.

Epatia Lilikas is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in English and economics. Her column, “Digital Canvas,” runs monthly on Thursdays.


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Epatia Lilikas

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