I never experienced a snow day until I came to Cornell, which puts me at a whopping two days. For many Northeastern students, those two days are less than they typically expected in one year of elementary school. On top of that, I have (to my utter embarrassment) spent both of those snow days studying.
My lack of understanding and participation in “snow day festivities” probably makes me both the best and worst person to write an op-ed urging administrators to keep snow days regardless of Cornell’s COVID-adapted online teaching modalities.
My first snow day was the Monday after Thanksgiving, my sophomore year. Having arrived back on that Sunday, I used it as a catch up day on all the work that I had “accidentally chosen” not to do while at home in Southern California. My second snow day was on a Friday that following February. Conveniently, that was my no-class study day, which also happened to be the day before an important out-of-state trip. As a result, I have spent both “fun” days in RPCC catching up on readings and essays.
Before you start calling me a Grinch, I do actually love the snow. The winter weather is one of my favorite parts about being on campus. I love ice skating at Lynah Rink with my friends, impromptu snowball fights, sledding and building snowmen. On the first real snow of my freshman year, I convinced 10+ New Yorkers (yes, I really did!) to make snow angels, build snowmen and have a very competitive snowball fight with me to celebrate my first real winter.
While talking to my good friend, Ezi Osuoha ’22, about the upcoming snow storm, she commented on how disappointed she was that this year’s freshmen won’t be able to experience a true Cornell snow day due to the new “just move it online” precedent set last semester. Add that to the list of just about everything that we’ve moved online this year, ranging from class to Slope Day.
I was so fascinated talking to her and other friends about their passion for snow days. To me, just about any day could be a snow day if you jumped in a big pile of snow on your way to class or took a rest and relaxation day in your dorm. However, other students at Cornell speak so passionately about snow days. They remember their parents skipping days at work for family time, the chance to finally go sledding, hot chocolate and movie days, and, above all, a chance to really rest. Ezi mentioned how she’d always take the tradeoff of shortening her summer break for a few days of fun in the winter.
Going virtual has changed just about everything for Cornell students. While it has made some things more convenient, it has simultaneously demanded more from us. Club meetings that were previously an hour long, can take up to three hours just because we’re just at home. Bosses and authority figures can ask us to “jump on a call” in 10 minutes, inadvertently demanding that our schedules are always free. Although snow days are logistical on paper, as they are designed to protect students and staff from dangerous weather conditions, they have become much more. On Cornell’s campus, they are an excuse for down time for overworked students. The cancellation of snow days is just another reminder that virtual school requires us to be ready and often ignores students’ mental health and their needs for rest.
To Cornell students, snow days are their chance to sleep in an extra hour, order food with their friends, go sledding, make snow angels or catch up on work. Regardless of what they choose to do or not to do, students deserve just a little bit of fun in a year that has deprived them of fun in so many ways. This is a Cornell tradition that we need to cling a little tighter to.
Anuli Ononye is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Womansplaining runs every other Wednesday this semester.