LAST UPDATED ON TUESDAY, DEC. 3 AT 8:10 P.M.- Exit traffic mounted and snow-covered footprints trailed throughout Montclair State University as administrators officially closed campus at 1 p.m in the afternoon on Monday, Dec. 2 following the impact of Winter Storm Ezekiel.
A total of eight motor vehicle incidents were reported to the Montclair State Police Department (PD) between 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2 and 6:35 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3 according to a written statement by Captain Kieran Barrett of the University PD.
“Any time we have a number of vehicles on campus and a snow event hits us, the risk and incident of a motor vehicle crash increases on and off campus as you can imagine,” Barrett said. “We many times see the exact same volume whether classes are in session or not.”
The motor vehicle incidents included crashes, cars stuck in snowbanks and other forms of needed assistance, according to Barrett. There were no reported injuries from any of the eight incidents.
Winter Storm Ezekiel prompted Montclair State to close down campus at 1 p.m. on Monday, December 2. Updates on Tuesday, December 3 will be announced after 8 p.m. on Monday evening. Full story to follow on https://t.co/42av5r5fwq! #MontclairStateSnowDay #WinterStormEzekiel pic.twitter.com/bTtajfaI7f
— The Montclarion (@TheMontclarion) December 2, 2019
Shannon Russell, a senior English major, believes the inconvenience following Winter Storm Ezekiel’s impact was not worth a brief school opening.
“They probably didn’t know how bad the snow [was] going to be, but canceling [school] at 1 p.m. with a lot of students already on campus was a bad idea, and could have caused issues similar to what we’ve experienced last year,” Russell said.
Russell continued, discussing the shuttle problems following the university’s closing.
“After leaving my class at 12:30 p.m., another shuttle didn’t come for an hour,” Russell said. “The bus was past max capacity for everyone who had to go to Hawks Crossing, Sinatra Hall, The Village and Lot 60.”
By the time Russell returned to her dorm, she was informed of three car accidents due to students trying to move their cars into CarParc Diem in order for staff to plow parking lots.
“I like that they took the necessary steps to close school down, but already by the morning it was pretty snowy out it should’ve been canceled way before 1 p.m.,” Russell said.
According to the university’s statement, online classes will resume normally, and if a hybrid course was scheduled to meet in person for Tuesday, Dec. 3, the professor is instructed to notify students by Monday evening if the class will switch to an online setting.
Carly Henriquez, a senior communication and media arts major, had a tough time getting off-campus following the 1 p.m. dismissal due in part to an accident on Clove Road.
“As I was departing from campus there was actually a car accident as I headed towards Clove Road,” Henriquez said. “The traffic itself from CarParc [Diem] took me around 10 minutes to get out from the first floor.”
Henriquez continued, explaining that getting out of the campus was not the end of her nightmare commute.
“There was a massive garbage truck slowing down traffic until I got onto 280 East,” Henriquez said. “One would assume you’re finally able to escape traffic, until a state police cop started to zigzag on the highway to purposely slow down traffic so that the large trucks of salt would be able to dump salt onto the pavement.”
Henriquez said her normal 20 to 25-minute commute home took her an hour due to the winter storm.
“Montclair State should’ve definitely closed down the university earlier or not opened it at all rather than having students, like me, come in for an hour and a half only to be stuck in traffic for another hour,” Henriquez said.
Barrett spoke to The Montclarion on behalf of the University PD’s role in snowstorms.
“We do give regular updates on conditions on campus and within the region to university administration, who utilize this as well as many other factors when deciding [to cancel classes],” Barrett said in a written statement.
Barrett urges students and faculty to be cautious and aware of their resources if in a dangerous weather-related situation.
“We urge all community members to use caution whenever traveling in inclement weather and to contact us on campus to see how we can help, or [contact] their local police department off-campus,” Barrett said.
Junior journalism major Kevin Doyle got into an accident on Clove Road around 12:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon prior to the dismissal.
Kevin Doyle, a junior journalism major, was involved in a car accident on Clove Road at 12:30 p.m., just 30 minutes before the university officially closed due to the winter storm. Doyle lost control of his car going downhill and was hit from behind. #MontclairStateSnowDay pic.twitter.com/4O7c6QZrrk
— The Montclarion (@TheMontclarion) December 3, 2019
“The school is on a mountain so I think they should’ve closed school early this morning to prevent all the traffic and accidents that occurred,” Doyle said. “I lost control of my car on the Clove Road intersection going downhill and got hit from behind so that was pretty scary.”
Maggie Nasser, a junior English major that commutes to Montclair State, was unhappy with the university’s close call.
“It was known since yesterday that today’s weather would be severe,” Nasser said. “Why did they wait until so many students risked their safety to make it to campus before changing their minds and canceling?”
Nasser further explained that her commute home during the storm was over double the amount of time it usually took, and her car did not help her in the process.
“It took me over an hour and 45 minutes to get home today when it usually takes me around 35 minutes,” Nasser said. “It was a dangerous ride with many cars slipping and sliding, my own included.”
The university announced on Monday evening in a campus-wide email that Tuesday, Dec. 3 will operate on a normal schedule, and residents with permits that are parked in CarParc Diem should move their cars to surface lots by 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
“The clean up continues throughout the region,” the Monday evening announcement said. “We all need to remember to take extra time for travel to and from campus and also when walking around campus.”
The announcement continued to say that university facilities have been working nonstop to clear roads and walkways, and for the campus community to anticipate areas to not be completely cleared.
“This storm brought ice and snow,” the announcement said. “Wear winter footwear for safe traction.”
The university continued to thank university facilities, the university PD, Residence Life, the EMS Squad and Dining Services for their cooperation during the winter storm.
If someone finds a particular walkway to be deemed dangerous, the university urges people to contact the Facilities Service Desk at 973-655-5444.
Contribution on this article was also made by Adrianna Caraballo and Mackenzie Robertson.