Britt: Snowfall on campus begs for care about climate change

"We can learn about climate change right from the campus some of us call home, from the comfort of dorm rooms and apartments." - Contributor / Marchella Mazzoni

As a kid, there was no better feeling than waking up on a school day, looking out the window, and seeing mountains of fresh white snow, waiting to be made into snowmen and lovingly imprinted with boot prints. Parents had already been called and school was officially canceled for the day. Whether you stayed comfy in your pajamas all day or geared up to bear the cold in the name of good old-fashioned snow day fun, the day was yours, and yours entirely.

In a post-Covid, Zoom-centered society, long gone is this simple pleasure we all once indulged in. A snow day. The decision to cancel school or cancel class seems to be at the liberty of the educational institute or the professor, and not completely up to nature. On Tuesday, Jan. 16, Mother Nature had different plans for the first day of the spring semester at Rowan. 

While I did not experience dangerous road conditions or slick sidewalks, other students were not able to commute to campus or were practically forced to ice skate their way to class. Uniquely, the first week of the semester began and ended with inclement weather; one new age snow day and one full-blown campus-is-closed snow day. Although, a snow day on a Friday did seem like a little treat from the universe. 

I am not the first person, nor the last, to hate on what is the painful experience of a class held through Zoom. To put it simply, they suck. You know this. I know this. We can move on. Rowan is also not alone in learning how to function as a school in a world where remote learning can be done.

Now, more than ever, something that we all need to learn how to navigate is the ever-worrying changing climate of South Jersey. Is it even normal that we have already seen so much snow? Is this enough to convert those who still don’t “believe” in climate change, as if climate change is as elusive as Santa Claus? 

According to and the Rutgers University NJ Weather Network, last winter was incredibly mild, coming in as the second mildest in Jersey’s history. Additionally, the amount of snow we got last year was the second lowest ever recorded, after the winter of 1918-1919. The winter before, it was only the third time in history that South Jersey had gotten more snow than North Jersey. Our winters have been inconsistent, and this may be cause for concern. 

As Rowan students, we are granted an opportunity to dive into the issue of climate change with courses like SJ Climate News. South Jersey Climate News is both a website and a course. Dr. Dianne Garyantes is a journalism professor at Rowan and the co-founder of SJ Climate News with fellow professor Mark Berkey-Gerard. 

“We think there are numerous benefits. One is we get to report on the issue of our time…which is climate change. We really need to be reporting about that. We’ve lost a lot of newspapers in New Jersey and news organizations have not been able to flourish with the economic changes in journalism so we feel like we’re filling an information gap about what’s happening here in South Jersey with climate change,” Garyantes said.

Even though the extreme changes in weather may be a frightening indicator of what the future holds, we can learn about the world around us and be a catalyst for change, and we don’t have to go that far to do it. We can learn about climate change right from the campus some of us call home, from the comfort of dorm rooms and apartments. 

“So we try to focus on this area and impacts of climate change, and possible solutions of climate change here in south Jersey. We also give students a chance to report on this issue themselves and to learn more about it, and to help people in the region learn more about climate change,” Garyantes said. 

While this topic can leave people feeling overwhelmed and disheartened, know that you do have the power to make a difference, even if you’re starting in the smallest of places in South Jersey. It’s your corner of the world, and you can make it better! 

Climate change has been largely debated, and although it is easy to stay in your comfort zone of either not believing entirely, simply just acknowledging its existence, or ignoring it all altogether, it may be time to really do something about it. Let these past few snow days be your wake-up call. Focus on the issue at home, from your dorm room. Start with the simple power of education to learn more about the issue, and go from there to make changes in your everyday life.

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