Campus battles snow

Photo by Emily Suran.

When more than 19 inches of snow fell on New Haven Wednesday, the University worked to keep essential operations up and running — but administrators say they sent community-wide notifications about closures and emergency plans too late.

The University Emergency Operations Team, which includes University Secretary Linda Lorimer and Deputy Secretary for the University Martha Highsmith, spent much of Tuesday organizing the snow efforts, Highsmith said. Overall, Lorimer and Highsmith said they are happy with the speed and efficacy of the University’s snow response — but the team may need to reconsider its communication and class cancellation policies.

“In hindsight, I think I should have communicated with the campus sooner about the possibility that we might have to suspend some services like the library and the shuttle,” Lorimer said, adding that she was still impressed with the “Herculean” efforts of the entire Yale staff to ensure that most University services were up and running.

The team did not add information about closures and transportation changes to the front page of Yale’s website until 11:15 a.m., and did not send a Universitywide e-mail with the same information until 11:40 a.m.

While individual professors were left to notify students of class cancellations, the Emergency Operations Team could not make its own campuswide announcement until representatives from campus departments — ranging from Payne Whitney Gymnasium to academic departments — provided updates about their own personnel and logistics. Yale shuttles were cancelled for much of the day, impacting faculty and student transit.

Highsmith cancelled her own Wednesday class at the Divinity School, “Pastoral Leadership and Church Administration,” per the recommendation of Dean Harold Attridge. Still, Highsmith said she did not see why a professor who lives close to the University would need to cancel an undergraduate class since most students live close to campus.

“When you have a significant residential population, you can’t close the University,” Highsmith said. “But you can cancel classes.”

In the past, the University, has relied on individual faculty members to make the decision about whether or not to hold a class, Lorimer said. She added that she anticipates discussions with Yale College Dean Mary Miller and Graduate School Dean Thomas Pollard to consider whether this is the best approach for a major storm.

After starting advance preparation for Wednesday meals this Monday, Yale Dining staff maintained regular meal service in all residential college dining halls, Lorimer said. Yale Dining estimated that it served more lunches than usual Wednesday, she added. The Yale Police Department and Yale Security operated at normal capacity throughout the day, Highsmith said, but Yale Security shuttle service was suspended from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. Wednesday morning when roads became impassable.

Despite the heavy snowfall, no major weather-related incidents were reported in New Haven as of 5:35 p.m Wednesday, said city spokeswoman Elyse Lyons.


  • dalet5770

    What Yale Needs is Bennidict Arnold once again to lead a march down Congress Avenue. Got it I will be in town Tommorrow motorcading. Last summmer I led the Hassidem in a parade. I would be happy to lead the protest against compartmenalist’s

  • YaleTemp

    An email from Linda Lorimer at 11:40 a.m.on Wednesday was seriously too little and way too late. This macho Yale attitude toward blizzard conditions is dangerous for those of us who do not conveniently live on campus or within walking distance. I travel I-95 to get here, and it was closed in two places along my commute due to truck accidents. If a massive tracker trailer can’t get through, why should I believe my small car (even with 4-wheel drive) could make it safely? And my train/shuttle backup plan was blown away by limited/no service there either. Students and teachers are obviously heart of the school, but they’re not alone on campus – there are thousands of others of us here who deserve consideration too.

  • Sara

    Someone is going to get killed by a vehicle skidding through an intersection. The streets around campus are in unacceptable condition, especially in areas where many pedestrians cross.

  • harbinger

    Maybe Sara can join with the illegal immigrants hired by Perco as shown in the photo to dig Yale out! C’mon Sara, Yale doesn’t plow the streets as that’s the city’s responsibility. But Mayor Destefano has the general idea that, “God put the snow there, God will take it away”. Maybe in between your little comments on traffic conditions in every article you can call the Div School for a little intervention?

  • harbinger

    Here’s a question I’d like answered. Is it Yale Transit, Yale Security or some odd combination who is actually in charge of rides on campus? They answer the phone Yale Transit, but a security car shows up. You get on a Yale Transit bus thats actually New Haven Bus Service. Transit and Parking manages the service, but hide behind the security folks who seem to do the actual work. Maybe we could make this a much simpler process for all involved. Either label everything Transit and have them operate it, or give it all to security and make it thier responsibility. This three way mess does nothing to help with a consistent operation of the service. It seems the Parking and Transit managers like having the title, but are even happier being unable to be found. And while we’re at it, how come we can’t find anyone from parking after 3? You get security who honestly try but can’t answer your questions, as they aren’t parking. Seems we have a department and some employees who have become pointless to the university’s needs. Get rid of the parking people and put that money towards other things- like buses and cars that can drive in snow.