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Travel delays hinder students’ and faculty’s return to campus

As temperatures drop below freezing in Minnesota, travel conditions have considerably worsened across the state. The change in weather has brought with it alternating bouts of heavy snow, hail, sleet and freezing rain which have combined to create difficulties in both aerial and ground-based transportation systems. 

The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport alone has experienced a total of 101 flight cancellations and 42 delays as of Jan. 4. A Delta flight slid off a taxiway after landing at the airport. In Minneapolis, icy roads have been the source of both crashes and spinouts, with the Minnesota State Patrol confirming reports of 69 crashes and 151 spinouts. The unusually extreme snowfall caused some power outages in places such as Chisholm and Olmsted County. 

The Carleton community, in particular the student body and faculty, faced similar travel issues while returning to campus for the start of the Winter Term. Professors who do not live on campus, particularly those who live in the cities, have been forced to hold a portion of their classes online due to the risk of road accidents en route to campus. 

Some students who had gone home for the break had significant delays coming back to campus.

“It was unexpected,” said Sophia Fox ‘26. “I was worried I was not even going to make it in time for the first day of class. I thought I was going to be stranded in D.C. when I got a voucher from Delta saying that my flight would most likely be canceled. So I switched my flight to the day before I was actually supposed to leave. I woke up at 12 p.m. and realized I had to change my flight, and so the whole day I was packing and panicking, and it was a very stressful experience.” 

Mirroring these statements, another student, Alex Widman ’23 had a similar experience.

“The day of my flight, it got canceled and rescheduled to the 4th,” said Widman. “The day when classes start. Then that flight was delayed, and I arrived at about 1a.m. to MSP. Then I took an Uber to campus since the buses were obviously not running. The Uber prices were $133, and there were also no Ubers. I ended up waiting at MSP for over an hour, trying to figure out whether to take a taxi or get to an airport hotel. I considered waiting ‘til the buses came at 9 a.m.” 

Widman eventually got a taxi to take them back to campus, although the taxi ride itself turned out to have its own difficulties. 

“When we were super close to Carleton, we ended up taking the backroads, which in retrospect we maybe shouldn’t have,” Widman said. “All of a sudden, we see a snow plow coming towards us, and we pull off to the side to let it pass. And then as soon as we try to get back on the road, we realize that the car is completely stuck. Our driver told us not to worry and tried to clear the wheels, but when we tried to drive, it only got more stuck, and at this point it was around 2:30 [a.m.], and I felt really bad. I tried to help him; at one point I was driving and he was pushing. But no matter what, it seemed to only get more stuck. I didn’t think of the smart thing to do immediately, which was to call Campus Security, which I ended up doing after 45 minutes or so. Until then, I was really considering taking my bags and just running for it, but [the driver] said it would be dangerous. Eventually I called security, and they picked me up and called a tow truck for our driver.”

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