After a winter storm crippled much of the East Coast and severely hindered traffic on major roadways and delayed thousands of airline flights, many students returning for the spring semester were set back in their travels.
Some parts of the coast neared record-breaking snowfall, with 40 inches of snow in Glengary, West Virginia, and 39 inches in Philomont, Virginia. The 25.1 inches of snow in Central Park was the third-largest snowfall on record in New York City, according to CNN.
Some of the setbacks that students experienced were due to travel bans placed on New York City and parts of Long Island that were in effect until Sunday morning. The storm system, called Jonas, also affected 8,830 flights Jan. 24 with cancellations and delays, according to FlightAware.com, which led to some students being stuck in airports internationally for days to come.
Freshman Walt Martzen is flying from Changi Airport in Singapore to Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport on Jan. 26 and is scheduled to land Jan. 27. While he said his professors are understanding of the position he is in, he is worried about falling behind while his peers are able to attend classes.
“I’m definitely worried that I’ll get behind on school work,” Martzen said. “I’m trying my best to stay on top of this even from Singapore, but I know there is only so much I can do without my textbooks and class lectures.”
According to an announcement posted on behalf of Benjamin Rifkin, provost and vice president for educational affairs, the students who were delayed significantly will not be penalized for absences due to the storm.
The announcement also encouraged students to notify their professors if they would not be able to attend class because of the weather and said faculty were expected to be understanding of those students’ situations.
Diane Gayeski, dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications, also released a statement to Park School students and faculty asking students to inform their instructors if they would be absent due to weather. She asked that professors affected by the weather inform her and their respective department heads.
While some faculty needed to cancel classes because of travel problems, others found alternatives.
Journalism instructor Martha Stone was not able to make it to class in person Jan. 25. Stone, who is stuck in Fort Myers, Florida, after three canceled flights, coped with not being able to attend class Jan. 25 by utilizing a program called Zoom, a video conferencing service.
“It worked. They were able to interact,” Stone said. “I could also show my PowerPoint and my syllabus and so on.”
The college accommodated students who came back to campus early to avoid the storm, opening up Terrace Dining Hall and allowing students to return to their residence halls earlier than Jan. 23.
Dave Maley, senior associate director of media and community relations, said it costs several thousand dollars to open Terrace Dining Hall a day early due to staffing, food preparation and cleaning. He said opening residence halls early for the storm had cost the college nothing, as staff were already in place.
Some students who drove themselves to campus carefully planned their trips around avoiding the storm. Sophomore Emily Stubb of Baltimore County, Maryland, was one of the students whose travel plans were affected by the snow.
“It actually really impacted my travel schedule because I have a car, and usually I drive it up here, so my parents didn’t want me to drive back,” Stubb said. “Instead, they drove me back on Friday morning, and we woke up at 3:45 to beat the storm.”
Some students were adamant about maintaining their original schedules to return back to school on time. Freshman Brianna Hoody drove to campus Jan. 23 from northern New Jersey. She described her car as “small, light and not good in the snow,” but rather than work around the impending storm, Hoody weighed down the front end of her car with cases of water to aid her front-wheel drive.
Both friends who planned on riding in Hoody’s car opted out because they were “uncomfortable driving through the storm.” Her best precautionary efforts proved to be futile as she said her trip was “extremely difficult.”
“After going only a block, I got stuck on a hill and went back home,” she said. “My dad then took me a new route to get to the highway and followed me for the first two hours of my drive.”
The storm has also pushed back the add/drop period for the semester to midnight Feb. 1, according to an announcement from Registrar Brian Scholten.