Tramon Lucas and Benjamin McKnight III
In preparation for this weekend’s impending winter storm, dubbed Winter Storm Jonas by multiple news outlets, Morgan State has closed campus for January 22 through 25.
On Wednesday evening, a statement was released from the school allowing students to begin moving in on Thursday morning. Originally, move-in activities for the spring semester were supposed to take place on Saturday and Sunday. The campus closure has also pushed the official first day of classes to Tuesday, January 26.
“I would say we found out probably Tuesday,” said Mahmu Mustapha, a student employee for the Office of Residence Life, in regards to the move-in date change. While the move-in window widening was expected to bring a large portion of the school’s on-campus residents before the storm hit, there are only about 400 students on campus, including those who were on campus prior to the storm, according to Vice President of Student Affairs Kevin Banks.
“Based on the forecasts that we were receiving, our crisis management team got together to look at what was going on, and based on the forecaster’s number of inches that they predict, we thought that it was the best interest of our campus community to not put people at risk and close campus,” said Banks.
The biggest concern for students returning is food supply, as the canteen is still closed and the Rawlings Dining Hall is operating on their weekend schedule, providing brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 7 p.m. Regardless, Thompson Hospitality feels prepared to deal with snowed in students – and staff – for the next few days.
According to Board Director Alex Cooper, the dining hall is required to have $10,000 worth of food in storage for emergency situations. “We’ve got enough to get us through, honestly, for two weeks right now,” said Cooper. For their non-student employees, “We offered them hotel rooms for the weekend,” Cooper said. “That way, all managers will be on duty to make sure we run smoothly.”
“We have our dining facility that’s up and operational, they’re running two meals a day for the next four days, so we are prepared to serve our students; we have food to serve up to 2300 students,” added Banks when asked about food preparations.
In the event that there is power outage on the campus, the back up generators would come into use as the generators run on diesel fuel. “We have back-up generators that run on diesel fuel, they don’t run electric power, so we got adequate diesel fuel to run the generators for our residence halls and dining hall. So we are not anticipating losing total power,” Banks added.
And as far as clearing snow from the campus, the walkways and steps are the first priority so students have access to the dining hall to get food while on campus.
The school hopes to operate as normal on Tuesday. However, should the snow cause further delays or closings, Morgan seems to be prepared to deal with any possible issues with snowed in students.