The latest snowstorm is causing controversy at Montclair State University with students complaining about the school being open even though Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency for New Jersey.
A winter weather advisory was issued warning about the hazardous two to five inches of snow but as of early afternoon Montclair State University classes were still being held on a regular schedule.
Student Darlene Matoes said this morning that she is “bothered that the school is open during a State of Emergency,” adding, “It is so dangerous for students and faculty to be driving in this weather.”
Gov. Christie Tweeted earlier: “There is a State of Emergency in place. If you do not need to be out, please stay off the roads and stay home.” He told people via Twitter that if they “have to be outside to drive slow and give plows and spreaders room to work.”
In some cases, if the university doesn’t close, the professors find they have to cancel their class anyway.
“It’s tough to figure out when to cancel class,” said Professor Steve Johnson who was on campus this morning. “You just don’t know how people get to class. I once had five people out of the fourteen come to class, so I just had to cancel it.”
Janitor Addie Muniz said that because of the weather her half hour drive often gets to become an hour or longer. “It’s not a good idea for the school to be open for the safety of everyone,” she said.
Dealing with weather can be extremely tricky but many students believe that the school should take driving in difficult weather into consideration.
“My car is horrible in the snow, so driving in this weather is really difficult for me,” said Nathalia Galvas, a junior.
Montclair State has only had two snow days this year, all other days students had to use their own decision on whether to go to school or not.
In response to the social media reaction, Dr. Karen Pennington, Vice President for Student Development, released this statement:
First, let me clarify that the State of Emergency issued did not require everyone to stay off of the roads. When a state of emergency is called it is the authorization for the governor to mobilize state resources, such as the State Police and the National Guard, or authorize emergency action. As you may recall, we sent out information regarding our closing procedures in November and again in January. www.montclair.edu/news/article.php?ArticleID=13680 In that notification we indicated that your default position should be that we will be open and operating normally.
A rigorous decision-making process goes into every decision regarding opening or closing the campus. University police consult with state police and relevant agencies to assess road and other safety conditions, experts analyze weather information, campus facilities officers assess the condition of University roads and buildings, and academic officers review the educational schedule.
On Thursday, the University had approximately 1,000 classes scheduled, as well as many other academic activities. Approximately 5,000 resident students were already here on campus. Mass transit was operational, and highways and access roads in the region were functioning. Campus parking lots and roadways were adequately cleared. Those circumstances formed the basis of the decision to keep the campus open.
The University appreciates that some students will make the decision not to commute to campus in certain weather, but we view it as our responsibility to keep the University open and operating for those who are able and who choose to come. As always, students who need assistance with special issues may be in touch with the Office of the Dean of Students.
UPDATE: This evening students and parents have turned to social media to share their complaints.
Students went to Facebook to review Montclair State with a lower grade to prove their point that they are upset that the school stayed open today despite a State of Emergency. Many students and parents called it “mad, outrageous, and even sad.”
Multiple students have tried to post their opinions to social media stating how school should have been canceled and staying open shouldn’t have been an option.
Peter Kaymakcian a senior at MSU stated, “I think it is absolutely deplorable that a university that calls itself a commuter school would keep the school open. They are putting 14,000 students lives at risk shows that this university does not care about its students.”
There have been numerous boycott hashtags on Facebook stating that commuters will not buy food the week of March 16. Students are threatening to not walk for graduation because they believe the school risked so many lives.
Montclair State | New Jersey