Cornell students got an unexpected break this Valentine’s Day when a brutal winter storm compelled University officials to cancel classes yesterday afternoon. The cancellation came in anticipation of blizzard-like conditions and further snow accumulation later in the day.
Stephen Golding, vice president for finance and administration, made the final decision to cancel afternoon classes and close all academic buildings during a conference call with Cornell administrators yesterday morning at 10 a.m. Administrators had originally decided to keep the University open during an earlier conference call, and morning classes were conducted as scheduled.
“The [original] decision not to close Cornell was based on weather and street information,” said Joe Schwartz, a public information officer from the Cornell Press Relations office. “The group first met at 3 a.m., and the University’s first shift starts at 5 [a.m.], so they had to make a decision with the information that they had.”
By 10 a.m., though, the storm had grown more threatening, and University officials made the rare decision to cancel class; Cornell’s last closure due to inclement weather was on March 4, 1999.
“Between three and ten, the storm intensified,” Schwartz said. “It wasn’t excessive, but there was a potential for blizzard conditions due to high winds. Based on that, the decision was made to close campus.”
The wintry weather that cancelled classes was still not enough to close Tompkins County roads for the day. As Tompkins County Sheriff Peter Meskill explained, the storm was not that out of the ordinary for area weather.
“We put out a travel advisory, but we get these kinds of storms occasionally,” Meskill said. “It all depends on the wind, and today, there wasn’t enough to shut down [traffic].”
Still, the roads were bad enough yesterday morning for some commuters to take the day off. Doug Lockwood, administrative assistant at the CU dining office, said that Cornell dining was forced to move units and consolidate staff because many staff members were unable to make it to work. Cornell kept the majority of its dining halls open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Lockwood continued, despite the staff shortage.
“For dinner we have dining halls open on every part of campus,” he said. “RPU and North Star are open on North, Okenshield’s is running on Central and Cook and Becker are both serving dinner on West. We expect to be completely back to normal in the morning.”
Late last night, Cornell administrators were still unsure if classes would resume on schedule. Golding was set to conference call with other University officials at 9 p.m. and again at three this morning to discuss weather conditions and the status of CU. A heavy snow warning was still in effect until 10 p.m. yesterday, and predictions forecasted 1 to 2 feet of snow accumulation by today.
Whatever the administration’s decision, most Cornellians were happy yesterday to get a brief break from the stress of classes.
"My roommates and I had a huge snowball fight and even made a snowman with
a carrot nose and black little coal eyes,” said Sarah Yagerman ’08. “it was awesome. I felt like a little kid again."
Still, for some students, the cold weather made the day off a little less enjoyable.
"I have nothing nice to say about the snow in Ithaca" said Ayesha Katrak '07, a student from India.