News, University News

Partial snow day met with mixed reviews

Some eateries, libraries, academic buildings close Monday due to heavy overnight snowfall

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The University cancelled all classes before noon and closed all administrative and academic offices on Monday in response to warnings of an intense and potentially hazardous winter storm that hit New England Sunday night.

The schedule change excited many on campus, but it also posed challenges for students and professors that ranged from difficult commuting conditions to study interruptions.

“It was great, because I didn’t have to go to Organic Chemistry at 9 a.m. and I’m very sleep deprived,” said Cricket McNally ’22. Thanks to the snowfall, McNally slept “12 hours,” and when she finally arrived at her afternoon lecture, she was in “such a better mood than I usually am,” she said.

According to the National Weather Service, Providence received about nine inches of snowfall as of 9:30 a.m. Monday, much less than the 17 inches that blanketed Burrillville and Lincoln, Rhode Island. In preparation for the storm, the City of Providence issued a citywide parking ban that went into effect at midnight Monday.

In response to the snow, University students got to sleep a little bit later than usual, while classes after noon were held “at the discretion of the instructor,” wrote Russell Carey, Executive Vice President of Policy and Planning, in an email to students and faculty.

For professors like Ira Wilson, a snowy driveway and a simple technology fix allowed him to cancel physical class on Monday. Students in his class, PHP 0310: Health Care in the United States, were electronically provided with a similar lecture he’d given last year.

“We’ve audio-recorded lectures for a number of years,” Wilson said. Because the lecture he gave last year at this time was “essentially the same” as the one he was set to deliver on Monday, he simply posted last year’s lecture, thus only “cancelling the physical class,” he said. “This is an example of technology coming to the aid of a weather problem,” he added.

Carey’s email, advising members of the community “to avoid all non-essential travel and to remain indoors during the height of the storm,” prompted some professors to cancel class as early as Sunday night. While Visiting Lecturer in English Philip Eil lives about three quarters of a mile away from school, he was “iffy” about holding class even without a snow day, as he is recovering from the flu. Carey’s message about optional classes in the afternoon confirmed his decision.

“I wanted to tell my classes as soon as I could whether they (were) going to have class,” he said, so he made the call last night “in an abundance of caution.”

Many buildings on campus were shuttered throughout the snow day, presenting some logistical problems for students. All libraries, including the Rockefeller Library, the Sciences Library and the John Hay Library, were closed. While the Sharpe Refectory and Verney-Wooley Dining Hall remained open all day, other eateries such as Andrews Commons and Josiah’s opened later in the evening. The Blue Room and the Campus Market were closed for the day.

Students like Kitty Moy ’21 headed to the Sci-Li to catch up on work, unaware that it was closed. “All the doors were locked but someone had propped one open,” Moy said, and “a lot of people were in there.” But her studying was disrupted when, after about 20 minutes, someone came down to the basement and “told everyone to leave,” she added.

With limited options, Moy went back to her dorm and watched “Gossip Girl,” although she would “definitely” have been more productive had she been able to remain in the Sci-Li.

For others, the snow made their schedules more hectic. While her friends were skiing on Wriston Quadrangle, Camila Rice-Aguilar ’21 was stuck in an airport with five other University students.“I came to Chicago for a conference and saw that there would be snow in Providence but didn’t know it had turned into a storm,” Rice-Aguilar said. Her flight, scheduled to leave Sunday, was canceled, and even after getting to the airport at 5 a.m. Monday, she found herself sitting in the terminal for hours.

Flights weren’t the only thing canceled; many midterms were called off as well. 

While this may be good news for some, for Erin Miller ’19, a cancelled midterm was “unfortunate.” “I was supposed to have a big midterm at 9 a.m. for one of my core grad classes,” she said. Her midterm was rescheduled for two weeks from now, bringing challenges  “in terms of retaining information and needing to re-study for it,” she added.

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