Natalia Dashan ’16 spent the snow-covered Thursday morning checking her email every five minutes to see if her afternoon exam would be cancelled.
But the midterm, for her large psychology lecture “The Human Brain,” was not.
A slew of faculty and staff were unable to make their way to campus because of the winter storm that pummeled much of the East Coast on Thursday. But though the city declared a snow emergency and many professors cancelled individual classes, most Yale courses carried on.
“I almost died four times,” said Edwina Kisanga ’16, who was disappointed that her classes were not cancelled. “It’s slippery and it’s dangerous to be walking, and I feel like more attention should be paid to that because we shouldn’t have to put ourselves at risk.”
Although Yale gave professors the option to cancel classes, some put in extra effort to ensure their classes would go as planned. English professor Alfred Guy, who teaches “Science Fiction,” told his class that he spent the night in a hotel in New Haven on Wednesday night because he was worried he would not be able to make his usual commute from New York City on Thursday morning.
Still, some professors did cancel classes, citing the icy roads and high winds stinging the city and campus.
Ethan France ’16 walked up Science Hill at 9 a.m. on Thursday to find that two of his classes were cancelled while another was “optional.” Instead of walking back down to his dorm room in Ezra Stiles College, France decided to stay on Science Hill so he would not have to walk up for his lab later in the day.
“I just worked on my lab report in an abandoned classroom. There was no way I was going to walk down Science Hill only to come back up three hours later,” he said.
Beginning early in the morning, crews from both the University and the city worked to clear roads and pathways with varying degrees of success.
Unlike last year, when Winter Storm Nemo left much of Yale impassable in early February, many of the walkways across campus this year were free of snow by the early afternoon. Approximately 75 workers hired by the University were on campus shoveling pathways, some starting at 4:30 a.m.
“Getting to [Linsly-Chittenden Hall] at nine in the morning was tough, because there was so much snow on the ground,” Max Bryski ’17 said. “By 11:30 on my way to [the Hall of Graduate Studies], everything was plowed.”
New Haven City Hall Spokesman Laurence Grotheer said the city was in “full response mode” by the height of the storm in the morning, with 30 public works crews working on clearing roads.
By midafternoon, Mayor Toni Harp declared a snow emergency in New Haven, allowing the city to ask state and federal governments for help with snow removal. This type of aid can come in the form of additional heavy equipment and the manpower to operate it, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.
Grotheer added that the major challenge of this year’s snowstorm was the accumulation of snow from other recent storms, little of which had melted by the time Thursday’s snow hit. By the time the new round of snowfall began, roads already had significant amounts of ice built up.
Several hours after major precipitation ended, roads near Yale’s campus were still covered in ice and snow, and traffic moved at a crawl.
According to one employee in the Pierson College dining hall, six colleagues were unable to make it to work yesterday. As a result, several dining employees who arrived at 7:30 a.m. found themselves unexpectedly working through the dinner shift.
Several of Yale’s peer institutions cancelled classes Wednesday and Thursday. The University of Pennsylvania was closed Thursday, as was Quinnipiac University. Columbia University cancelled Thursday classes starting after three in the afternoon.
Schools across the mid-Atlantic, unaccustomed to major snowfall but blanketed with upwards of 12 inches, were more disrupted. Duke University has cancelled all classes for the rest of the week.
Last year, two days of classes at Yale were cancelled after nearly three feet of snow fell. The last snow day before 2013 occurred in 1978.