As Hurricane Sandy swept through the northeast on Monday night, Penn students stayed in their well-powered homes stocked with groceries and good cheer.
For this, we have the University’s facilities crew, dining services staff and other essential personnel to thank.
While Sandy left our campus largely unscathed, the University was prepared for much worse.
Penn’s Crisis Management Team effectively monitored the storm and communicated its efforts to students, staff and parents as early as Friday. The decision to cancel classes on both Monday and Tuesday allowed our community to prepare accordingly for the storm.
UPennAlerts, which are typically reserved to alert the community to crimes or natural disasters as they unfold, were an effective way to reach students in the thick of the hurricane.
Student government leaders, however, missed an opportunity to inform and assure their constituents. Members of the Undergraduate Assembly could have used email and social media to supplement the University’s warnings with practical advice on how to weather the storm.
Perhaps Penn’s student leaders could have taken a leaf out of Mayor Michael Nutter’s book. Nutter, a 1979 Wharton graduate, communicated the severity of the storm to Philadelphia-area residents to “keep looking out for each other.” He effectively oversaw evacuations of flood-prone areas and kept in touch with President Obama throughout the relief efforts. On Tuesday, instead of taking a well-deserved break, Mayor Nutter toured storm-damaged areas on Tuesday and met with PECO executives to assess the damage in the evening. Nutter found a middle ground between panic and nonchalance — something we can all learn from in the aftermath of the storm.
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