Snow: it’s no joke

Kayla Ebner, Managing Editor

It seems that many students on campus are a tad confused about the conditions that warrant the cancellation of classes and other university operations. In the month of March, we had a snow storm, a nor’easter, a fake snow storm, and a couple instances of some flurries.

The nor’easter came on Friday, March 2 and brought with it insane winds and lots of rain. Students walking around campus were blown around like leaves and trees and limbs were knocked down easily. In Newport, the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge closed for multiple hours after a tractor-trailer was knocked over by the strong winds. According to a report by CBS Boston sent out that day, winds in that area reached over 50 mph.

In an email sent out by Ed Fitzpatrick on behalf of RWU’s Parking and Transportation, they announced that the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority closed the Mt. Hope Bridge to all “high profile vehicles,” including the RWU shuttles which transport students to and from Baypoint, which houses hundreds of students. The email also stated that they would be running the shuttle “in a northerly loop over the Braga Bridge in Fall River to Rt. 24” to accommodate for this restriction. This route takes an hour to complete.

Despite these extreme conditions, classes were not cancelled and students made the dangerous walk/drive to class.

Junior Shannon Cronin had to drive home that night for a family event and described the driving conditions.

“I remember not being able to see the cars in front of me,” Cronin said. “I was driving so intensely and holding the steering wheel because my car was swaying with the wind.”

Over spring break on Tuesday, March 13, RWU announced that the university would move to “Operating Level 4 (All University Operations Canceled; Essential Services Personnel Only) at 7 a.m.” on both the Bristol and Providence campuses due to a snowstorm approaching. According to Mark Searles, WJAR Chief Meteorologist, the area got approximately 11 inches of snow during this storm. An appropriate amount to cancel classes, but unfortunately, no one was really on campus.

Most recently, on Monday, April 2, a few inches of snow fell upon the RWU campus, but it caused a lot more trouble for some students commuting after Easter than it was predicted to. I personally drove to school this same morning and did not exceed 60 mph the whole way because my car was sliding a lot and it was difficult to keep control of the car at times. It took me over a half hour longer than it usually does for me to get to school. 

Junior Lexi Gurney also drove to school that morning and spun out on the highway, hitting the median with the front of her car. She thinks she either hit a patch of ice or hydroplaned, then fishtailed and hit the median.

“The conditions were very unsafe,” Gurney said. “The highways were all slush.”

Lexi was stressed out because she had to give a speech in her public speaking class, and her professor mentioned that the students were not to miss a speech unless they had a very legitimate reason. She chose to drive even though the snow was worse than it was supposed to be when she woke up.

 In RWU’s Emergency Response Plan, most recently updated in March of 2013, it details the “Operating Levels” for emergency planning and response purposes, but does not describe the conditions which would cause class cancellations.

I do believe that RWU gets it mostly right when it comes to snow, but it was definitely unsafe to drive that morning, and it wasn’t safe to be out during the nor’easter on March 2.