As Winter Storm Ezekiel blanketed much of upstate New York in snow, Binghamton University administrators and students made adjustments to arrive back on campus safely.
Immediately after Thanksgiving, BU experienced its first snowstorm of the fall semester. According to The Weather Channel, the storm was a bomb cyclone, meaning its barometric pressure dropped significantly in 24 hours. As a storm’s pressure decreases, the strength of the storm increases.
The storm first hit the University on Sunday and continued through early Tuesday morning. Vestal received roughly 11 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.
To help students travel safely from home to Broome County, University officials sent a B-Alert on Friday announcing the cancellation of Monday classes. According to Brian Rose, vice president for student affairs, canceling class and opening residence halls early was a decision made by several University offices, as well as state-level weather officials.
“[We] met as a group three times over the course of this current weather emergency,” Rose wrote in an email. “It was this group that provided early notice of Monday class cancellation, that mobilized resources to open residence and dining halls early and that encouraged a return to campus on Saturday ahead of the storm. We spent significant time over the holiday weekend giving due consideration to all interests.”
As residence and dining halls opened a day early, some students, such as Grace Moon, an undeclared freshman, decided to leave early to get to BU before the weather worsened. Moon said because she was worried about the road conditions, she thought it was best for her to arrive on Saturday.
“I went home on Wednesday and I planned to come back on Sunday afternoon,” Moon said. ”However, I got the text that there would be a huge storm and school was going to be canceled so this freaked out my parents. I was actually going to take the bus back, but I was worried about the road conditions and I convinced my parents to drive me back to BU early on Saturday.”
But others, including Steven La, an undeclared freshman, stayed home and faced travel delays as the snow and ice made the roads to Binghamton dangerous. La said he made plans ahead of time and did not want to leave early, a decision that ultimately caused difficulties in his travel.
“After hearing about the storm, my parents panicked about how I was going to get back,” La said. “They wanted me to get back to BU on Saturday, but that would ruin my plans to meet with my friends over the weekend. I stuck with my original plan of leaving on Monday, but the buses got delayed until Tuesday. I finally got back on Tuesday evening.”
University officials ultimately canceled Tuesday classes before noon as the storm pushed on. Since La’s classes were in the morning, he didn’t miss any classes because of the bus delays. But the delays prompted many students to call for the University to cancel class for Tuesday entirely. A petition on Change.org created by Kailey Williams, a junior majoring in psychology, noted that students should not risk their safety trying to get to their classes in the afternoon. The petition reached around 4,000 signatures, but Rose said clear weather for almost all of Tuesday enabled maintenance crews to clear the roads in time for afternoon classes.
Connor Gallagher, an undeclared freshman, said he was forced to skip class because of the bus schedules. He initially planned to come back to campus through ESCAPE Bus Company, a student-run charter bus company that drives students home to regions in New York City, Long Island and Westchester. However, the delays to the ESCAPE buses caused him to miss class.
“The weather postponed the bus by two days and I couldn’t leave until Tuesday,” Gallagher said. “The bus ended up being three hours late, so I hitched a ride with other people. When I first heard about the storm, I was okay with it because that just meant I would be home for a couple more days — but when I ended up missing class, it was horrible. I do wish they just canceled class for everyone on Tuesday because of how the buses worked out.”