Lafayette stays open in record snowstorm
By Hannah Doherty ‘19
Despite the snow emergency that was declared from Friday, Jan. 22 to Monday, Lafayette College was the only school in the Lehigh Valley to open on the Monday following the storm.
Winter Storm Jonas is being described by The Weather Channel as “rivaling infamous snowstorms of the recent past” and in Easton, it produced 2.5 feet of snow, according to The Morning Call.
While Lehigh University, Moravian College and Muhlenberg College all shut down, Lafayette did not consider the likelihood of cancelling classes, according to President Alison Byerly, who, along with human resources, facilities operations and the provost made the decision to keep the college open.
“Our sense was that a majority of students were back [and] that more were expected to get in later Sunday night,” Byerly said. “While we realized that we wanted to make provisions for the fact that some students would miss class on Monday, it throws classes off so much to have [cancellations].”
The snow presented some challenges to students, particularly those on sports teams that were meant to travel during the weekend.
The men and women’s basketball teams, for example were both affected by the storm. Both teams were supposed to play Lehigh over the weekend, but the games had to be postponed, with women’s basketball being rescheduled to Jan. 27 and men’s to Feb. 8.
According to player, Alex Cantwell ’19, the women’s team also spent “seven more hours on the bus than they were supposed to coming home from American University Friday evening due to the weather.”
For some students, even navigating their way around campus was an issue in the inclement weather.
Meaghan Donohue ’19, who is on crutches because of a hip problem, said, “it is too icy for me to walk so I have a Dean’s excuse to stay home and miss school this week.”
Byerly, on the other hand, has come up with an innovative way to travel around campus in the snow. As a former Vermont resident, Byerlytook the snow as an opportunity to revive an old passion for cross-country skiing.
“I was checking out the different corners of campus,” Byerly said. “I chatted with some members of the softball team who were sledding over by Oeschle and I talked to some other students who were over by Skillman and just kind of chatted with some of the workers shoveling to get a sense of how things were going.”
Byerly credits facilities operations for how quickly they were able to clear the snow from steps, pathways and parking lots. It is because of their good job clearing things that Lafayette was able to remain open, Byerly said.
Custodian Joe Jones said that the snow created “a lot of extra work, but we do what we have to do to get the job done and provide safe walkways and roads.”
“We use shovels, plows, snow blowers and rock salt to help move the snow and create a safe environment,” Jones added.
Not every part of Easton was cleared of snow the way campus was. On Jan. 23, at around 3 a.m., the awning at Lafayette Cleaners on March Street collapsed from the weight of the snow, according to one of the workers, Noellia Han.