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CUNY has class despite no gas, limited mass transit service after Sandy

The phrase “the calm after the storm,” didn’t apply to many CUNY students who returned to classes on Friday, Nov. 2.

After canceling all classes from Oct. 29 through Nov. 1, CUNY decided to open the doors of its campuses Friday despite the nearly impossible commuting conditions that were still felt days after Hurricane Sandy’s wrath.

By the time students were supposed to return to school, transit problems weren’t completely fixed; many subways and buses ran on a limited schedule, some people were still without power in their homes and a gas shortage caused many people to wait on long lines.

But CUNY decided to resume classes nonetheless.

“I still have no power, so I couldn’t even find out for myself that I had class. I had to have someone else check the Queens College website and tell me there was class,” said freshman Nick Griffin on Friday. “In a nutshell, finding out about having class was very stressful.”

“I was upset because my biggest concern was how am I going to get to class. Do I have enough gas in my car, what buses am I going to take, how can I find a route that doesn’t have trees down or too much traffic,” Griffin added.

At time of press, CUNY failed to offer a comment in regards to the decision to hold classes on Friday, despite requests.

A statement from QC President James Muyskens states that the New York state Department of Education requires that all CUNY colleges hold 15 weeks of classes each semester. With a lot of school closings it would be difficult to make those days.

“We felt fortunate to be able to resume classes on Friday.  That being said, we will encourage faculty to be understanding of students who still have problems getting to the college; and we will also be sensitive to the same difficulties still being faced by some of our faculty,” Muyskens said.

Michael Levine, a junior and a commuter from Fresh Meadows, who either takes the Q17 or Q88 buses, said his 25-minute commute turned into a 40-minute commute with the long gas lines causing a lot of traffic on the Horace Harding Expressway.

Both Levine and Griffin said classes weren’t as full as they usually are but professors continued with their lessons.

With the exception of a destroyed tree near Powdermaker Hall, QC was fortunately left relatively unscathed after the storm. The school’s tennis bubble, which was destroyed during a tornado in 2010, remained intact. Other CUNY schools were hit devastatingly hard, including Hunter College, which was flooded.

The shortage of gas in the city may still prevent students from attending class this week but mass transit service has steadily improved with the majority of it back in working condition.

Friday, a day when public schools were forced to remain closed, was a different story. QC is usually filled with plenty of students on campus, but Levine described the scene as a “ghost town.”

“The only time I’ve ever seen the campus as empty and barren as it was on Friday was when I walked across campus a few weeks ago at 7 a.m. on a Sunday for a school trip,” Levine said.

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