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Gettysburg PA

Hurricane Sandy and RIT

Tanner Newcomb on Tuesday, 30 October 2012. Posted in Campus Safety

I’m going to be frank: I’m disappointed by the RIT community’s reaction that our campus has remained open after our visit from Hurricane Sandy in the past 24 hours.

I find it upsetting that my fellow students (as well as faculty, staff, etc.) are complaining that campus is still in operation. If anyone for a second thinks that our administration did not consider the decision with the utmost care, and that they didn’t lose a wink of sleep last night worrying about our welfare, you’re wrong. One Facebook commenter had this to say on the RIT main page:

There are multiple areas with power outages, multiple schools around that have closed, and the storm is closing in with every hour. Your decision means that students - both commuting and non-commuting - will have a tough time getting anywhere. Has RIT ever considered the safety of their faculty and students before making this announcement? I just don't get how such a conclusion could have been made if safety was truly taken into consideration.

Students have also created a Facebook group (“RIT Safety”) with the intentions of letting Dr. William Destler, our president, know that they’re upset we still have classes today.

Yes, the county declared a state of emergency. Yes, multiple schools (K-12 and collegiate) have been closed. Yes, a commute to campus may be a little more difficult than normal. However, I find the insensitivity to the community as a whole disheartening.

A closure of campus would mean that millions of dollars in tuition would go to waste. Imagine your tuition ($42,450 for on-campus students, $32,037 for off-campus students) – not a cheap chunk of change for anyone. Quick math: students pay $31,584 a year in tuition. 30 weeks of classes, 5 days a week means that each student pays roughly $210 a day to be here. Multiplied by the 17,652 students currently enrolled means that over $3.7 million dollars in tuition was wasted. To reiterate, if you think that our administration was about to let you lose your (our) money like that, you’re mistaken. Take it as a gift, a blessing, that we’re still fully operational.

Further, what safety has been ignored? You will get in your car and drive to campus like every day. The weather outside, at this point, is far from treacherous. In fact, I just saw the sun peak through the clouds… probably for the last time until Spring. You will go about your business and find that campus is operating at full functionality, aside from a few mishaps here and there, that our dedicated and amazing team of FMS workers will have remedied within hours. You will drive home this evening and find that the world (especially our school) is far from a disaster area. You will watch the news and see that New York City, New Jersey, Maryland are in real trouble. People are dead and dying, millions are without power, and homes and cities are destroyed.

Now, I don’t mean to pick on anyone. I would have loved a day off from my obligations, too. I have a tendency to rant, but I won’t. The fact that RIT remains open is a great thing. It means we are a strong, organized campus that is able to endure literal and figurative weather. We should be thankful and that we’re safe and that damage to our area was minimal (only 6% of Rochester Gas & Electric customers are without service at this time). So many others are not so lucky.

On the other hand, I do think that RIT could have done a better job of updating the community throughout the night. There was far too great of a gap between the initial posts yesterday (Oct. 29) and early this morning. To whom it may concern: more consistent updates would do well to keep our nerves at bay.

While campus has remained open, please use your discretion in getting to campus and going to class today. I am sure that given the circumstances professors will be more than sympathetic and understanding if you are unable to or decide not to attend class today. To everyone, be safe out there.