Hurricane Irene loomed large over Stony Brook University’s opening weekend this morning, both figuratively and literally.

As students filed into LaValle Stadium for New Student Convocation, rain from the hurricane’s outer arms began to fall as Dr. Peter Baigent, Stony Brook’s Vice President of Student Life, dedicated his speech to advising students on how to be safe during the storm.

“You must use an abundance of caution,” he warned students. He said some opening weekend events would still take place, but many others had already been cancelled. “Check the Stony Brook homepage on a regular basis,” he said.

Baigent also had some good news for students. “The dining halls are well stocked,” he said, before advising students to “stay indoors until the storm is completely over.”
Dining halls will remain open throughout Sunday, but periodic closures are expected based on the advice of Emergency Management

The students, many of whom never experienced a hurricane before, were clearly worried about Irene. The freshmen sitting in the bleachers chatted and joked their way through most of the ceremony, but were almost silent while the hurricane was being discussed. Meanwhile, returning students moving into their dorms were taking extra precautions.

“I definitely stocked up more than I would have if Irene wasn’t coming,” said Kathryn Michaud, “I got more nonperishable food this year.”

“I’ve got a shitload of food,” said Elizabeth Linde, an H-quad resident, pointing to two large shopping bags.

Another student walking by with more than a dozen bags from Target in his hands noticed he was drawing attention. “We’re gonna survive this storm,” he said.

Not all resident students will be in their dorms during the hurricane.  A number of students who booked flights for Sunday were stranded, some halfway across the world, as thousands of flights to the New York area were cancelled.

“Most returning students are postponing their returns until Monday,” said Celeste Demby, a Whitman College RHD.  “Most freshmen came yesterday, but only a few returning students have come in today. Many states where our students come from are in a state of emergency, so a lot of students can’t even get here.”

Monday, when classes are currently scheduled to start, could be the earliest day that many out-of-state and international students are able to arrive on campus. Monday classes have been cancelled at most New York area campuses, but not yet at Stony Brook. The university can still decide to cancel classes at anytime, just as Governor Cuomo could decide to close campus.

Keep checking Think Magazine or Stony Brook University’s website for the latest on Hurricane Irene.