Snow bombards Suffolk

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Snow bombards Suffolk

Photo by Gianna Carchia

Photo by Gianna Carchia

Photo by Gianna Carchia

Photo by Gianna Carchia

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The opening weeks of the new semester have been plagued with unrelenting snow storms, making it treacherous for students—some trying to navigate the brick sidewalks overtaken by sheets of ice, and some weighing whether trudging to class is worth the risk.

SGA President Mitch Vieira, 2011, became a victim of the hazardous conditions on Friday, January 28, when he slipped on an icy sidewalk outside Fenton, shattering two bones in his left leg.

Vieira was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he is still recovering and receiving physical therapy nearly two weeks later. He told the Journal in a phone interview that he has a severe break in his tibia and fibia on his left leg.

“There are screws, rods, and several plates,” in his leg, said Vieira. “When you look at the x-ray, it looks like a ‘Kinex’ set. It’s full of metal below the knee.”

Vieira said he is unsure of when he will be released from the hospital or when he will return to school, but the other e-board members—Vice President Nick DiZoglio, 2011, Treasurer Ed Plamowski, 2011, and Secretary Guy Zagami, 2011—have been handling Vieira’s responsibilities in his absence, according to DiZoglio.

“The whole SGA wishes Mitch Vieira well. I miss him and I want him back,” said DiZoglio. “It’s an empty chair without him.”

“We were deeply concerned to hear that Mitch hurt himself,” said university spokesman Greg Gatlin. “The Office of Student Affairs has been in close contact with him and we’ve been thinking about him.”
Junior Daniel Mann, who witnessed the accident, said the university should be doing more to prevent such incidents.

“I think [the accident] just happened, but what they should do is make sure facilities are out there sanding and salting on a more regular basis,” he said. “Suffolk should care more about the health and safety of its students who are walking around on campus and traveling to and from class.”

Mann is not the only student who expressed concern at the school’s handling of the recent onslaught of snow storms.

Sophomore Samantha Keefe said that the weather has made her two-hour commute from Milford more difficult, and that the school has not made it any easier, referring specifically to last Wednesday’s apparent indecision on whether to delay or cancel school.

Keefe does not have classes on Wednesdays, but “if I had class at 12 or 1, I would have already been on my way,” she said, after pulling out her phone to confirm that she received a call at 6:45 a.m. informing the university would be opening at 12 p.m. She received the cancelation call at 11:44 a.m.

“Considering the amount of tuition I pay, I think it’s the school’s responsibility to ensure the students are protected,” said Keefe, adding that professors often do not take into consideration how far a student needs to travel.

“The safety of our students and employees is the first and foremost concern. That is the priority,” said Gatlin. The decisions to cancel or delay classes come from the Office of Risk Management, members of the Incident Command Team, and the President’s office, which makes the final decision.

“In making those decisions, they look very carefully at weather forecasts, as well as availability of public transportation. We’re also in contact with other decision makers from other universities,” he said, adding that the decisions made last Wednesday were based on a weather report that the morning’s snow showers would turn to rain with improved conditions by midday.

“That improvement did not occur as expected and that along with problems of public transportation lead to the decision to close for the day,” said Gatlin. “We do have a lot of people commuting in. We’re looking very carefully at the conditions and safety comes first.”

Suffolk also had a delayed opening at 11 a.m. on January 27 and an early closing at 4 p.m. on February 1.
According to the Shaq-o-meter on boston.com, Massachusetts had 70.7 inches of snow as of February 4, reaching the shoulder of Shaq’s 85 inch frame. The Average amount of snowfall in a season is 41.8 inches and the record was 107.6 inches the 1995-1996 winter season.

“Everyone should be vigilant of their surroundings. Check everywhere you walk,” said Vieira, advising people to wear appropriate shoes and not to text or have their hands in their pockets in case they fall. “Take your time. Allow extra time as you navigate the city.”

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