Text messaging used to close school

St. John’s University decides early in the morning whether or not to close school due to inclement weather, and Feb. 22 was no different.

Due to several inches of snow on the ground, all St. John’s campuses were closed for the day. Students were alerted through the emergency text message and voicemail systems.

According to the St. John’s Web site, “During periods of inclement weather, the process to decide whether to close begins early in the morning. At about 4:30 a.m., Denise Vencak, Executive Director of Public Safety and Risk Management, consults with representatives at each campus to assess conditions.”

Then, the information is relayed to Provost Dr. Julia Upton and Dr.James Pellow, who asses the weather conditions of all campuses and the various activities that are scheduled for the day.

The Web site stated, “A decision is reached, typically, between 5:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. If the University is closing, that decision is forwarded to Dominic Scianna, director of Media Relations, for public dissemination in local media.”
Many students, however, felt that the text messages were overused.

Commuter Jessica Sampson said, “I was annoyed at the [five] text messages and the phone calls early in the morning since I don’t wake up until 10:30.” She added, “One of my classes had already been cancelled anyway.”

Dominic Scianna, head of media relations, said that the text messaging program was “very effective.”

“We have had success with the program since its inception at the beginning of the school year… the message was sent twice, inadvertently, but well in advance to students faculty, and administrators to give them the information on the closing.”
Students also had mixed reactions to school being cancelled.

Student Michelle Wiltz, who dorms on campus, was happy to receive the messages on the morning.

“I was excited because I wanted to build a snowman and I have never built one before.”
She added that her day also involved staying indoors and playing Rock Band in her dorm. But even though she stayed inside, Wiltz said that she would “definitely like to have another snow day.”

Anasthasia Nguyen, who also dorms on campus, said that she found out through her roommate, who received the messages.

“I was doing [school] work in the morning,” she said. “It didn’t make a difference because I still had [a lot] of work to do.”
However, Nguyen, who is from California, dislikes the winter weather.

“I’m not used to the snow because I am from a part of California that doesn’t snow,” she said. “I’m used to going outside in shorts and not being cold. But I can’t do that anymore.”

She added it was her fourth time experiencing snow while living in
New York and it is still hard to get
used to.

Similarly, Sergey Kalantarov, who is a commuter, took advantage of the day to get some studying done. Having an exam scheduled that day, he said, “I would have felt better to get it [exam] over
with instead of waiting a whole week.”