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January 17, 2020   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Winter disrupts students’ return to campus

What started as a bomb cyclone on the West Coast during Thanksgiving week turned into a storm that swept across the United States, causing major travel difficulties for students returning to Ithaca College after the week-long break.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that was in effect in Ithaca from 7 a.m. Dec. 1 to midnight Dec. 3. Approximately 6–12 inches of snow were expected in Ithaca during this time as the storm blew through the area. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for seven counties, not including Tompkins County, and deployed 300 members of the national guard to assist with snow removal and cleanup operations.

In an email sent to students Nov. 30, the college stated that due to severe weather conditions expected to impact the region, classes would be canceled Dec. 2. In a follow-up email the next day, the school announced it was officially closed until Dec. 3, when normal operations and class schedules would resume.

Other colleges and universities in the area, including Cornell University, Tompkins Cortland Community College, Syracuse University and Binghamton University, canceled classes Dec. 2 as well.

Ithaca College Public Safety recorded four incidents during the storm. A car hit a curb by Alumni Circle near the college entrance and another slid off the road into a ditch by Towers Skyline at night Dec. 1.

No injuries were reported in either case. A student hurt their leg snowboarding on a path near Z-Lot by Coddington Road on Dec. 2, and a college employee slipped in M-Lot by the Athletics and Events Center as they were arriving to work Dec. 3.

Tom Dunn, associate director for the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, said the roads were snow-covered and slippery, which led to accidents.

“I know the sheriff’s department had put out a notice telling people to avoid unnecessary travel, which is a common occurrence in upstate New York,” Dunn said. “When road conditions are bad, the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department wants to discourage unnecessary travel. The number of accidents was considerably lower because I think people heeded the warning of not traveling if it wasn’t necessary.”

Classes were not canceled Dec. 3, but the snow and ice disrupted students’ travels back to the college. Freshman Kyle Friedman arrived at Port Authority in New York City only to find that buses traveling north were all canceled.

He had to board a bus back to New Jersey, where he originally traveled from. Friedman reached campus on the afternoon of Dec. 3.

“Everything was running slow because of the storm,” he said. “I’m from California, so this weather has truly been a new experience. I’m not loving the snow.”

Freshman Amit Rosenberg-Rappin was stranded in Philadelphia for two days. They left Chicago the morning of Dec. 1 only to find out that their connecting flight to Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport had been canceled. They ended up arriving at campus the afternoon of Dec. 3.

“I knew it would go bad, but I decided to try it,” Rosenberg-Rappin said. “I couldn’t get another flight back to Ithaca. It turned out the only flight I could get was to Syracuse.”

Emily Hung can be reached at ehung@ithaca.edu