Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Rain, rain, classes away

By Matthew M. Robare

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Judging by the amount of rain we had yesterday, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of us began to seriously consider getting in the business of ark building. Especially if you happened to walk by the Visitor’s Center and saw the cars that turned into submarines.

I’m not sure if it’s global warming or ozone depletion or El Niño or La Niña. All I know is that our weather is screwed up royally.

One day it’s freezing and snowing, the next it’s foggy and the day after that we get a flood. It’s totally ridiculous. Get with the program, Weather Demons! It’s January in Massachusetts. That means snow and ice, not flash floods and days when coats are not necessary. It’s only been like this for thousands of years.

The scientific reason weather occurs is because of the whims of the Weather Demons. They are minor elementals, in the parlance of fantasy role-playing games, and act like a kind of meteorological mafia. In exchange for normal weather, we need to perform sacrifices to them as prescribed by the ancient rites. These are the usual sort of sacrifices, involving chanting, doing unusual things with knives, misrepresenting neo-paganism and a Vermont Weather Rock, which is used as the high altar.

For those unaware, Vermont Weather Rocks are ingenious devices capable of both telling time and weather. Go to any Vermont country store and ask for one. A really good one will cost around $40. It looks like an ordinary rock, but it has special properties and can only come from a secret quarry in Bennington County.

A Vermont Weather Rock works thusly: you take your special rock and put it outside where it’s visible from a window in your house, and you wait for it to change appearance. If it looks wet, it’s raining; if it’s white, it’s snowing; if you can’t see it, it’s night. And so on. A complete guide can be purchased with your Vermont Weather Rock for only $10.  

Anyhow, for the sacrifice to be effective, you need a rubber chicken and some organic material that used to belong to a TV weatherman (hair, teeth, skin, amniotic fluid, and so on). In the old days we used to sacrifice the entire broadcaster, but in another example of Freedom of Religion being suppressed in the United States, that is now considered first degree homicide. You take the organic material and stuff it in the rubber chicken, then you place it on the Vermont Weather Rock, paint “Yes” and “No” on opposite sides in red paint, have every member of the congregation spit on it, tie it to the Vermont Weather Rock, throw it through the window of the local National Weather Service office and run like hell. Afterwards, everyone enjoys a hearty laugh and a meal at a nearby Chinese restaurant.

This should appease the Weather Demons enough for at least one snow day, depending on location.

If the administration of the University of Massachusetts Amherst had a collective brain cell, school should have been canceled yesterday. I first came to that conclusion the previous night, when the ground had virtually become all black ice. It was all but impossible to walk around. I was surprised that the busses were still on time and able to get around instead of turning into mutant rampaging Zambonis. It reflects very favorably on UMass Transit and their drivers that such a terrifying possibility did not occur. I still almost slipped a few times and got stuck on a patch around the Townehouses.

But when it’s pouring all day, very windy and extreme flooding occurs, I cannot do anything but question the University’s decision to remain open. With campus underwater and not enough money in the budget for scuba or diving gear, it’s ridiculous to remain open. Road conditions were dangerous, cars were flooded and the Southwest Towers were carried away by the current. Who was thinking of those members of our campus community who can’t swim? The administration certainly wasn’t.

The UMass administration acted with all the intelligence of a triceratops. They were not thinking in the long term, only in the short. In the short term, having campus remain open may benefit the administration by saving on the logistics of rearranging schedules and events, but in the long term, drowned students don’t pay tuition.

The safety of the student body must be paramount in the decisions involving bad weather and continuation of classes. I am sure that the University always attempts to act with those considerations in mind, but they undeniably screwed as badly as the weather did this time.

Maybe they need Vermont Weather Rocks.

Matthew M. Robare is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]


2 Responses to “Rain, rain, classes away”

  1. Nick on January 26th, 2010 12:23 am

    As far as I can tell, there were no ill-effects of keeping UMass open. It was just rain. All that black ice melted this morning and I didn’t see any danger in going to my classes today. If you were so worried about dying on the way to class, then just stay home, there’s no need to shut down campus for an entire day just because it was raining out.


  2. muad'dib on January 26th, 2010 11:57 am

    “Mutant rampaging Zambonis” are the three funniest words ever published in the Collegian (though not the Morning Wood ;-)) Nice going Matt.


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