As Blizzard Strikes Northeast, Undergrads Still Expected for Class

Despite freezing temperatures, gusty winds, and more than a foot of snow, students bundled up and headed to class on Thursday.
As a blizzard battered the Boston region Thursday, it was business as usual at the College, where students and staff trekked to campus in several inches of snow. While the University administration and several Harvard schools closed offices and cancelled classes, many College affiliates had no choice but to embrace the weather.

Historically, Harvard has rarely closed for snow days—only seven times in the last 39 years. During a 1977 winter storm, former Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III quipped that “Harvard University will close only for an act of God, such as the end of the world.” The most recent snow day was in Feb. 2015.

Devontae A. Freeland ’19 said that getting to classes had been difficult. He was also concerned about staff members who had to travel to campus from farther away.

“It was truly miserable, actually, walking from Dunster, where I live, to the Yard to class,” Freeland said. “I don’t support the University’s decision not to just do a blanket-wide cancelling of classes.”

Freeland, who also works part-time for the Harvard Foundation, added that he felt confused by the number of emails sent by administrators. Freeland said he was unsure about whether he needed to report to work.


“I wish the University had a more centralized system for notifying individuals about what is the game plan in an event such as inclement weather,” he said. “I think I was receiving emails from too many different people, and you weren’t always sure which was the one that was most definitive for you.”

Although University Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp announced late Wednesday evening that non-critical University-level administrative offices would close, each school is given its own discretion whether to suspend operations.

“Though schedules at individual Harvard Schools may vary depending on local conditions, the University’s Administrative Offices will be closed Thursday,” Lapp wrote in an email to Harvard affiliates. “As always, faculty, students and staff should be guided by their School leadership, with whom they should be in touch with any questions. Individual schools with specific schedule alterations will communicate directly with their communities.”

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, however, remained open for normal operations and instructors were encouraged to communicate directly with students about cancelled classes. More than 100 lecture and section meetings were cancelled on Thursday, according to FAS Registrar Michael P. Burke.

The Graduate School of Education, Kennedy School, Medical School, School of Public Health, and Extension School all cancelled classes, according to University spokesperson David J. Cameron. At noon, the Law School closed all offices and cancelled afternoon classes citing a “worsening forecast.”

Undergraduates revelled in the near-foot of snow and postponed prior engagements while sliding down the steps of Widener Library and throwing snowballs around campus.

Sammy N. Mehra ’17 said only one of his classes, Expository Writing 40: “Public Speaking Practicum,” was cancelled. He planned a snowball fight in the courtyard of Quincy House with a friend, anticipating that “at least there would be a lot of snow.”

“We both like playing in the snow, so we figured maybe invite some people together and get a communal snowball fight going,” Mehra said. “We made snow angels. That was fun.”

According to Cameron, undergraduate residential dining halls and shuttle services remained in full operation throughout Thursday, and Facilities Maintenance Operations’ snow removal efforts were expected to continue working overnight.

“All campus roadways and primary pedestrian pathways are continuing in full force,” Cameron wrote in an email. “FMO plans to continue snow removal through the evening and overnight period.”

Boston College, Boston University, Cambridge Public Schools, Massachusetts of Institute of Technology, and Tufts University, all cancelled at least some classes Thursday due to the weather. Boston Public Schools will be closed on Friday as winter storm “Niko” passes through the city.

—Staff writer Kenton K. Shimozaki can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @KentonShimozaki.


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