Winter Storm Niko hammered the coast of New England from the early hours of Thursday, Feb. 19 well into the evening. The warm temperatures the day before caused the first few inches of snow to melt and then freeze on the surface, causing icy roads and sidewalks. Central Park saw about nine inches of snowfall, while parts of Long Island saw up to 14.
On Feb. 18, a day before the storm hit, the National Weather Service issued forecasts that predicted heavy snow, high winds and possible blizzard conditions for the New York area.
Around 3 p.m. that same day, New York public schools began to announce that they would be closed the following day in anticipation of the snowstorm. Weather forecasts announced that travel would be dangerous, if not impossible.
Later in the evening, CUNY students from multiple campuses began receiving notices that their campuses would be closed as well. Hunter College and Brooklyn College sent emails to all students enrolled in classes.
Baruch College students were left in the dark as to whether the Baruch campus would be open. Some students enroll in CUNY Alert, which is a service that allows students to receive email, text or voice alerts of emergencies or weather-related closings of CUNY campuses. Baruch students should have received an official email when school administrators decided to close the campus, but it seems that the Alert system was not used properly.
Students who opted to receive text alerts were notified of Baruch’s closing at around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday. However, students who were not subscribed to the email alerts never received that information and had to rely on other sources like Instagram to find out whether the campus was open.
It is unlikely that all of Baruch’s roughly 15,000 undergraduate students opted in to receiving text alerts. The failure to notify all students of Baruch’s closing is representative of a poorly implemented system for disseminating important information.
If the student email master list can be used to let every student know whenever the Newman Library has a survey, it can, at the very least, be used to let students know their campus will be closed. Rather, it is used for less important messages like contribution to a pavement.
Students should not have to take to social media to learn about school closures. The information should be made more readily available and accessible to all students.