With a relentless torrent of snowstorms and ice battering the College, the campus has become nothing short of a tundra. Snow piles heap higher and higher as each week’s shower piles up, while ice patches, nasty and nearly invisible, stretch outside residence halls and high-traffic areas. Their presence, moreover, shows no signs of disappearing soon.
In the event of storms on the horizon, the College has a routine set of policies preparing for bad weather, from pitter-patters of snow to blizzards.
“Before any predicted storm, the Department of Facilities and Administrative Services ensures that salt supplies are well stocked (and that) trucks and other snow clearing equipment (loaders, Gators, snow blowers and power brooms) are in working order and fueled,” said David Muha, associate vice president for Communications, Marketing & Brand Management.
Once a storm hits, depending on the severity, the administration determines what needs to be plowed by the Office of Grounds and Landscape Maintenance Services. Safely cleared roads are essential for allowing passage for Campus Police or medical services, but areas around buildings can be just as hazardous to go uncleared.
In spite of the College’s efforts, many students have had difficulty traversing campus over the lasting residue of the storm season.
“Behind Cromwell, they don’t put salt on the sidewalk — it’s like TCNJ on ice,” sophomore economics major Nirali Vyas said.
Others have been injured directly on the unforgiving ice.
“I’ve slipped a couple of times,” senior civil engineering major Nancy Argueta said. “I feel like there’s not much they can actually do.”
These conditions seem almost permanent. Any improvements made on the grounds are reversed immediately upon the arrival of another storm. Even the administration has acknowledged the College’s gridlock to fight the snow.
“Although DFAS does its best to (clear the campus), the weather does not always cooperate,” Muha said. “Windy conditions can re-cover already cleared roadways and sidewalks, and daytime melting can refreeze at night causing icy conditions throughout the campus.”
Especially dangerous to walkers are the many uncleaned construction areas across campus, many of which remain haphazardly icy. In order to complete plumbing repair to New Residence Hall, a metal ramp stretches across the sidewalk leading to Decker Hall — as ice accumulates on top of the metal, students have unwittingly slipped on the platform.
“It’s the bridge of death,” sophomore psychology and education double major Laura Stiefbold said. “I fall every day.”
Onslaught of storms aside, the process of clearing the snow and ice appears slow.
“The storms this year have been a bit out of the ordinary,” Muha said. “Heavily traveled areas, both vehicular and pedestrian, tend to get snow packed, making it much harder to plow down to the pavement. In addition, salt does not work well on packed areas. Extremely cold temperatures have left DFAS with a relentless daily battle with ice.”
As February continues, more snowstorms hover on the radar. Each one adds a new successive layer to the already cemented sheets of ice across campus, and if the College doesn’t step up its fight against the inclement weather, campus conditions will falter on an ever more slippery slope.