Students received two days off from classes this week thanks to a Binghamton University first — 31.1 inches of snowfall in a 24-hour period.
The campus community was notified of Tuesday’s class cancellation at 8:50 p.m. on Monday, and then later of Wednesday’s cancellation at 7:25 p.m. on Tuesday.
The decision to cancel is made by BU President Harvey Stenger; Provost Donald Nieman; Brian Rose, vice president for student affairs; JoAnn Navarro, vice president for operations; Tim Faughnan, chief of Binghamton’s New York State University Police; David Hubeny, director of Emergency Management; Eric Backlund, director of risk management; David Husch, director of University transportation; Peter Napolitano, director of auxiliary services; Paul Crisman, grounds service manager; Katie Ellis, senior director of communications and marketing; Ryan Yarosh, director of media and public relations; and BU student Ryan Sheppard, a first-year graduate student studying accounting.
Snow days can be expensive, since the classes lost will never be made up, and the University estimates the cost of a missed school day at around $2 million. Due to the potential losses, Stenger said that many factors are considered before classes are canceled.
“The team considers those students, faculty and staff who have a long distance to commute,” Stenger said. “In this case, the team monitored weather conditions, road conditions and transportation options. Confirmation that we made the right decision came when the governor declared a state of emergency and later the county executive issued a state of emergency, as well as a travel ban.”
Although classes were off for the day, some University employees still reported to campus to aid on-campus students. According to Yarosh, there are about 500 essential workers who must come to campus, even when a state of emergency has been declared. Among those are snow removal workers, who Yarosh said had been on campus for nearly 24 hours a day since Monday night.
Sodexo ordered enough extra food to support those on campus until Saturday, which was delivered Tuesday morning. Hotel rooms were also rented for essential food service workers that were needed in dining halls, but could not travel between campus and their homes.
“Even when we have inclement weather and delay or cancel classes … employees who are considered essential to campus operations are required to report to work to provide the support necessary for the safety of our students and to ensure students are fed and housed appropriately,” Stenger said.
Off Campus College Transport (OCCT) suspended all service on Tuesday and Wednesday. According to Nicholas Ferrara, the Student Association (SA) president and CEO of OCCT, when determining whether or not to suspend services, OCCT generally follows the lead of the University and its decision on whether or not to cancel classes.
Students on and off campus enjoyed the time off, but also said that the cancellations were needed. Michael Sugarman, a junior double-majoring in English and graphic design, said that the days off were a first for him.
“These are the only snow days I’ve had in my time at Binghamton University and it was 100 percent necessary,” Sugarman said. “The snow was up to my waist, I could barely leave the house.”