Students Upset at NYU in Wake of Storm Jonas

Anne Cruz and Lexi Faunce

As New York City was hit with Winter Storm Jonas on Jan. 23, countless NYU students were left stranded off campus as roads were covered in almost 27 inches of snow only two days before the first day of spring semester.

Even though New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s city-wide travel ban was lifted on Sunday morning and most mass transit systems within the city have come back to life, some LIRR, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit lines are still blanketed with snow. Additionally, 1,631 flights were cancelled into, out of or within the United States on Monday, causing delays even for students whose hometowns remained unaffected by the storm.

The NYU community was alerted that the university would most likely open on Monday through a series of emails from Executive Vice President for Health Robert Berne.

“The University will be closely monitoring forecasts and conditions; however, based on what we have seen so far, we would expect to be fully open on Monday,” read the email. “Please keep in mind the general guidance we shared earlier in the week: if NYC public schools are open and transit systems are running, we will be open; if either is shut, we will be closed.”

Sure enough, an email from Berne on Sunday, Jan. 24 stated NYU would resume its schedule the following day.

Steinhardt junior Drew Fois said he was disappointed in NYU’s decision not to cancel classes Monday. Although Fois said he acknowledged why NYU decided to follow the MTA and NYC public school policy, he said the university did not consider other important factors.

“Many students coming into the city can’t even find a flight or train until late this week,” Fois said. “If not flying, students will be forced to get on the roads while they’re still extremely dangerous in order to not miss precious class time. Maybe NYU will realize their mistake when they find out that half of the students didn’t show up to class for the first few days of the semester.”

Gallatin freshman Ma Qing said she was surprised to see NYU didn’t cancel school and said she wished the university was more supportive of its students’ concerns with missing classes.

“When half of the students stuck at the airport and cannot make it to school, NYU should certainly do something for students like us so that we can feel the support and understanding from our school while anxiously waiting for the next available flight,” Qing said.

LS freshman Jillian Sloman’s flight from Nashville was canceled four times and said she found it frustrating that NYU was well aware of the struggles hundreds of students were facing. Sloman also said that the university’s stated policy of closing when New York City public schools or the MTA close does not help students who are stranded hundreds or thousands of miles away.

“This isn’t a tiny population of students — this is thousands of flights cancelled and hundreds of students who have their hands tied sitting at home knowing that there is nothing they can do,” Sloman said. “If you’re going to boast diversity with students from all over the country and [internationally], you can’t just shrug and say ‘sucks for you’ when the airports are closed and we can’t get In the city. That’s not fair to us.”
Email Anne Cruz and Lexi Faunce at [email protected].