Students petitioned on Wednesday, January 30, for administrators to cancel classes on Thursday in anticipation of harsh weather. Associate Vice President for Campus Safety Dan Gough announced in an e-mail, independent of the petition, at 6:42 a.m. on Thursday that classes would be delayed due to weather.
Senior Nina Roudi and a few of her friends created the petition on change.org on Wednesday night in anticipation of Thursday’s weather, which had already closed or delayed dozens of universities across the country.
Just two hours after the page was created, over 2,000 individuals had signed the petition. At the time of this writing, 3,107 individuals have signed the petition. According to the Colgate website, as of June 1, 2018, the school population is 2,982 students.
“We didn’t really think anything would happen, but my friends and I thought, ‘let’s just start a petition,’” Roudi said. “We were freaking out. I was saying even if I [only] got 100 signatures I would send it to Brian Casey.”
Roudi and other students forwarded the petition to President Brian Casey and Vice President and Dean of the College Paul McLoughlin.
Colgate canceled classes held before 9:55 a.m., in addition to providing additional cruisers to help students get around campus. Gough wrote in an email to the student body on Thursday that the school’s Weather Decision Group had met both Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning to monitor the weather and communicate decisions with the community.
The National Weather Service had issued a Wind Chill Warning for Thursday until 6 p.m., as temperatures could be below zero and wind chills had the potential to be negative 25 degrees.
On Thursday afternoon, Gough alerted the community in an e-mail that the National Weather Service downgraded the wind chill warning, meaning classes and speakers would continue as planned.
“I thought it was definitely really nice that at least the operations team met and tried to listen to our needs, but I do think the outcome wasn’t exactly what we wanted,” Roudi said.
While the additional cruisers were helpful, Roudi said, this reaction was not as effective as it could have been. Roudi heard of students still having problems getting to campus on cruisers, and said that cruisers themselves are not very helpful for students who live off-campus and have to walk to a cruiser stop.
Roudi said she was inspired to create the petition after talking to her mom, who went to Syracuse University and is no stranger to the cold. Roudi’s mom got frostbite on her nose when she was a student at Syracuse, which has left a permanent mark on her face. Coming from California, Roudi said she was afraid of facing the cold weather, but was not prepared to miss her presentation in her class on Thursday.
Gough acknowledged the petition in his earlier email Thursday, explaining that SGA and the Weather Decision Group will engage the community for similar decisions in the future.
“Given the significant response to yesterday’s message about the weather, the Weather Decision Group will plan to organize conversations in the near future with SGA to share more information with interested students on how decisions about emergency closures get made,” Gough said.
Contact Emily Rahhal at [email protected]