The roads were slick with sheets of ice and slush as students were either helping each other or screaming inside their cars in frustration while stuck in traffic on Nov. 15. This was Montclair State University’s first snowfall of the fall 2018 semester, which turned terribly wrong for students, professors, employees and everyone in between.
As the first snowflake fell on the frozen pavement at the university, everyone stirred into feelings of panic and excitement. After a few hours, those still at the university saw it snowing heavily on to the ground, which caused them to run to their cars. But what stopped them was much larger than just a few snowflakes: it was chaos.
With snow comes preparation and it seems like University Facilities were not for this snowstorm. You would think that since Montclair State is mainly known for being a commuter school, they would have some sort of game plan whether the storm was predicted to be large or not.
That was not the case when cars had lined up, bumper to bumper, outside of Car Parc Diem stretching all the way to Red Hawk Deck. The roads were not even plowed and they looked like they were not even salted before the storm. With miles worth of traffic and cancellation of shuttle services on campus, students did not know where to turn.
As for the shuttle cancellations, students were notified via text at 3:36 p.m. that all shuttles were temporarily shut down due to poor road conditions. The cancellation was before the university had even been closed or professors were given an option to continue class or cancel it.
At around 4:15 p.m. students were notified that all classes from 5:30 p.m. and the remainder of the evening were canceled, which then caused a stir. As for the update on the shuttle shutdown, that was nowhere to be found through text.
Now, imagine how students who might have parked in Lot 60 or The Village felt once they had gotten those texts. They probably felt a rush of panic as to how they were going to get off campus and if they even were. Let’s not forget that the text was sent an hour before classes were about to start.
Most students who commute travel to school an hour or two hours before their class. For Montclair State to send out a text an hour before classes is unacceptable.
The problems do not just stop there for the first snowstorm of the season. Some students had lost heat in their dorm rooms during the storm. After paying thousands of dollars, every student would expect to get the service that they pay for.
Students were informed of the heat loss via email and not even a residence assistance had knocked to let everyone on each floor know of the situation. As of right now, the heat has been fixed.
With the traffic comes the frustration of not being able to move for hours on end. Some students shared their experiences in the snow horror from that Thursday on Twitter:
— Cristian Inga (@cristianinga_) November 16, 2018
It's been meh for a change here outside of Buffalo. I'd rather be stranded. I love the snow. I do have a tip though. Montclair State was a complete disaster, several professors are bunkering at their offices after sitting in their cars on campus to egress for 6 hours
— Adam Seth Moss (@LFNJSinner) November 16, 2018
Last night was definitely a day to remember. Not many can say they have parked in the middle of the highway. Also, @journoprof here are some pictures of the lovely people of my town saving parking spots when there’s 2% of snow left. pic.twitter.com/8N5moo3mtb
— Funwithshey (@funwithshey) November 16, 2018
— The Montclarion (@TheMontclarion) November 15, 2018
Not only was Montclair State not prepared, but the State of New Jersey also was not. Another obstacle awaited students at the entrance of Route 46, as cars were in a standstill. The roads were not plowed – similar to the university’s roads – and there was no one directing traffic.
Shortly after, the University Police Department (UPD) had started to direct traffic at Montclair State. With both the university and New Jersey unprepared, that left citizens, students and everyone else in a dangerous position. According to nj.com, there were 555 car crashes during the treacherous storm. That is a scary statistic for commuters as the college is mainly described as a commuter school.
Sure, the Student Center was open all night to anyone that was stuck but the bottom line is that the university and meteorologists underestimated this storm.
The one good thing to come out of all of this chaos is the unity that Montclair State students and professors had created to help one another out. The kind of unity and support during tough times is inspiring to see.
People came together and pushed cars out of the snow, which shows what kind of community we have on campus. That shows people that Montclair State is a place of togetherness where a helping hand is available in a time of mayhem.
Though the day might have been filled with struggle, the unity that students showed really shined a light on who we are at Montclair State. As for the preparation aspect, Montclair State and the State of New Jersey failed us by putting us in such a dangerous position.