As most Candians know, Newfoundland got hit with the largest snowstorm most islanders have seen in their lifetime. The record breaking storm, which Newfoundlanders have titled “Snowmaggedon 2020”, buried the city with 76.3 cm of snow, recorded at St. John’s International Airport, and 93 cm in Mount Pearl. The snowfall caused both cities and surrounding areas to call a state of emergency for the first time in 35 years, leaving citizens to literally unbury themselves out from under several feet of snow.
While the snow definitely left behind a big mess for city officials to clean up, leaving St. John’s in its 5th day under the SOE, students are also being greatly affected by this storm.
Since Friday January 17th, students have not only been unable to attend classes due to the state of emergency. They’ve also had to clear copious amounts of snow, many only regained electricity on Sunday, January 19th, and those who work part/full time jobs would not have been able to get any hours up until Monday January 20th — that is if they work in grocery stores, convenience stores and other essential businesses. Those who work retail still fall under the SOE and are unable to leave their houses.
It’s obvious that the state of emergency is for the safety of the residents of the Avalon peninsula but its students are suffering academically and financially. It is never an easy feat to be wondering how they are going to pay bills and tuition without knowing what their next paycheck will read and how they are going to catch up with an insurmountable amount of school work that they’re going to face when classes are back in session.
Now, you might say to yourself, “with all the time-off, students have more than enough time to stay on track with their school and stay ahead” — but that’s not necessarily the case. With the labour of having to shovel after 2 snow systems, and the effects of being restricted to your home can be exhausting — both physically and mentally. Katie, who is a 3rd year student completing her BBA said, “a lot of people are experiencing cabin fever, we’ve been stuck in our houses for 5 days and that can make people feel tired and depressed. I think a lot of students are feeling unmotivated even though they’re stuck at home.” Not only will it be hard for students to get back in the swing of things once the state of emergency has been lifted, but also for the rest of the semester.
In a poll ran on Instagram, an average of 80 students answered the following questions in relation to academics:
- When asked if they found that the intense weather and its repercussions were impacting their studies — 84% of students said yes.
- A follow up to the previous question asked if they found the impact on their studies was negative or positive — 83% of students said negative.
- When asked if they thought that the effects of the weather will follow throughout the course of the semester — 69% of students said yes.
- Finally, when asked if they believed that the school systems were doing everything in their power to accomodate students during this State of Emergency — 54% said no.
While we know that Memorial University is encouraging “all faculty/instructors to extend academic leniency to students impacted by the current state of emergency and power outages” (Dr. Noreen Golfman, provost and vice-president (academic)). Kaitlyn, who is a 3rd year BBA student said that in her opinion, “it will be nearly impossible for professors to fit their entire syllabus into the rest of the semester, but we already know that they’re going to try. It will absolutely destroy students.”
Memorial also stated they are extending deadlines for MUCEPS/ISWEP/GradSWEP and SWASP applications, as well as add/drop classes and the opportunity to regain a 100% tuition refund on dropped classes until the first day back to classes after the State of Emergency has been lifted. While a lot of talk is happening about what the rest of the semester will hold, students still don’t quite know what to expect once classes as are back in session.