Looking back on the events of this week’s hurricane, we agree with the University’s decision to cancel classes and shut down many of the facilities. Students, faculty and staff needed this time not only to be in survival mode in their homes, but also to stay in contact with their families, many of whom were more affected by the storm than those of us on campus.
With high winds and heavy rains occurring on campus, students were no doubt in physical danger. The decision to close the Grove due to falling limbs was made with our safety at its root. Tromping through puddles against the wind with the possibility of projectiles just wasn’t safe and the University was able to recognize that and act on it. Additionally, the projection of squalls throughout the afternoon was a major concern to us and we are grateful the University chose our safety as a top priority.
Beyond having the physical burden of being in classes during the storm removed was having emotional stability provided. Luckily, the physical campus was not impacted too greatly by the storm, but with a student body–and our own staff–made up of students mainly from New Jersey, New York and other parts of Pennsylvania, our families were feeling the physical effects more. With classes and other activities being canceled, we were given the opportunity to keep in contact with our relatives facing the storm. We were able to keep ourselves updated on whether our homes were damaged and whether our families were injured. We believe the decision to close the University benefited us not only by keeping us physically safe, but also by providing us emotional stability and the opportunity to focus on aspects of our lives being affected away from campus. In particular, we appreciated the email from President Bravman sent Wednesday night reaching out to us and other members in our University’s community. The notice of the emotional toll and the sympathy he provided us with was heartwarming.
While we agree with the decision, we feel that both we as students and some of our professors were still left in a state of distress earlier on Oct. 29. Because the local schools were closed and the University made a decision about our closing so late, some professors were forced to bring their children to campus and leave them in offices or with other professors while they taught. While it’s inevitable that the University will remain open on days when local primary and secondary schools will be closed, the issue with this particular day was the lack of notice. Other universities in the area announced their closings earlier, so that their faculty and staff could concentrate on their families’ needs during this weather event. For students, we even found difficulty in trekking around campus for our 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. classes. Perhaps the University should have closed its doors earlier, or at least made and announced a decision earlier so plans could have been made.