Immediately following Winter Storm Jonas’ weekend barrage of the east coast with record-breaking amounts of snow, Montclair State started the week with a normal schedule on Monday, Jan. 25, despite university and public school closings throughout New Jersey.
While some students were outraged at the university’s decision to remain open in the wake of such a massive snowstorm, Shawn Connolly, Vice President of University Facilities, said that the facilities staff worked tirelessly all weekend to ensure that the campus was safe enough to open on Monday.
“I was on campus most of the weekend and we were confident that we had opened enough walks and roads to safely continue the business of the university,” said Connolly, who is a member of the group that decides the final verdict on closing the university. “Safety is our primary concern when making decisions.”
According to Connolly, the majority of the 128 individuals who constitute the university’s facilities staff, along with 56 student workers, remained on campus from 8 p.m. on Friday until 4 p.m. on Sunday. “We called in as many of the workers as we could for that storm,” he said.
Aside from the four managers on staff, university facilities workers are New Jersey Civil Service Employees who are required to implement snow removal in accordance with their contracts. Regardless of the mandatory obligation, Connolly said that “the employees of facilities take great pride in being able to perform that necessary work.”
Of the students complaining on social media about the university’s decision to remain open on Monday, the majority were commuters who had to consider less-than-ideal driving conditions or altered train schedules when planning their commute.
The MSU Problems Twitters account retweeted the commuting and parking woes of several students who vented online.
Susan Cole didntkeep her students safety in mind, I had to wake up for my 8am class just for Transit to cancel MSU trains. @montclairprobs
— Reggie⚡️ (@_reggieBDT) January 25, 2016
Many commuters also complained about the unsafe state of parking garages on campus.
You would think that because Montclair didn’t cancel class, they would at least shovel inside of CarParc…wrong @montclairprobs
— CJ Nolan (@Colin_Nolan) January 25, 2016
half of RHD is covered in snow in the already overcrowded commuter University. @montclairprobs
— lilianaaa♡ (@fancypantslily) January 25, 2016
Connolly resisted these complaints, saying, “The entire group [facilities staff and student workers] worked long hours in an effort to ensure the University could open Monday morning. I can’t think of enough positive comments to describe them.” He continued, “I encourage anyone who thinks [removing snow is] an easy task, sign up and work alongside those who have and see just how physically demanding it is.”
Even with 10 plow trucks, 15 snow blowers, five Kubota ATVs, five Kubota tractors, three wheel loaders, two rubber tire back hoes and a new Holland skid steer, Connolly stressed the difficulty of removing the snow accumulation during Winter Storm Jonas. “In this storm, as fast as they removed the snow from an area, Mother Nature would just cover it up behind them. The fact that this was a large accumulation storm and the duration was long was the real challenge,” he said. Having residents move their cars into the parking decks helped the process, since, according to Connolly, one of the biggest challenges of snow removal is maneuvering around parked cars.
From now until spring, the facilities staff will be battling ice as the snow gradually melts during the day then refreezes with the low overnight temperatures. Connolly said, “Ice is the most common complaint we receive. Snow is easy to move but ice is more of a challenge.”