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University Braces for Heavy Snowfall

Overnight storm will not affect basic operations

By Caroline M. McKay, Crimson Staff Writer

The first major snowstorm of the College semester swept into Cambridge last night into today, but don’t count on classes being canceled or University operations shutting down.

In order to ensure clear roadways and pathways for the community, a crew of 50 University workers was on call this morning to operate plows and snowblowers across campus, and 100 custodians were designated the morning shoveling shift.

Although some individual schools canceled classes already once this semester for the snowstorm on January 12, Harvard has historically been reluctant to shut down the University. During the record-setting 1977 blizzard, former Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III told The Crimson that “Harvard University will only close for an act of God, such as the end of the world.”

Harvard University spokesperson Kevin Galvin said yesterday that the University will be operating normally. But he added that students should check their classes’ websites to make sure that the individual class has not been canceled, since professors may have trouble commuting.

Anticipating trouble commuting for faculty and staff given predictions of six to ten inches of snow, the University sent an e-mail yesterday evening clarifying when University workers should report to work in the morning.

Essential or critical staff members considered crucial to the continued operation of the University were told to come to work as scheduled. Other staffers, including essential staff members who can perform their work at home, were told to arrive at work at 11 a.m.

Galvin explained the University process for making decisions about severe weather. He said that an emergency services group within the Campus Services Department monitors National Weather Service dispatches for information about possible severe weather. The group shares the information with Executive Vice President Katherine N. Lapp and Local Emergency Management Teams at each school within the University.

Lapp coordinates with the administrative deans council to continue operations and guarnantee the safety of faculty, students, and staff.

While the snow may cause problems for commuters, it allowed some freshmen to become familiar with a new form of precipitation.

Nuseir Yassin ’14, from Israel, saw snow fall for the first time yesterday. Heis idea of snowflakes—“diamond-like objects” from movies and fairy tales—was quickly proven wrong. Upon hearing weather reports, Yassin said that he “can’t comprehend” the amount of snowfall in his new surroundings.

—Staff writer Caroline M. McKay can be reached at carolinemckay@college.harvard.edu.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction.

CORRECTION: JAN. 27, 2011

The Jan. 27 article "University Braces for Heavy Snowfall" misattributed statements by a Harvard official about the University's operation. The information was, in fact, provided by Kevin Galvin, a University spokesperson.

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