The Tomato

Photo: James Peltzer.

Freshmen ill-prepared for the cold weather, leaving many frostbitten and full of regrets

As we begin a new school year at U of O, many of us know what to expect. Two short, warm days of autumn, followed by a quick and biting chill, where campus turns into a frigid and barren wasteland. Stairways become covered with a thick layer of ice, and mini avalanches of snow fall off the roof of the University Centre.

It’s easy to tell who’s not in the know. They’re huddled together in large packs, attempting to stave off the cold, inappropriately dressed for the cold weather. They claim their moms were going to buy them a Canada Goose coat over Thanksgiving. It’s the first years.

“Winter in Ottawa is harsh, I knew that, but … jeez … I didn’t expect it to be this bad this early,” explains Mark Huberman, a first-year human kinetics student, as he looks back with remorse at his choice of school.

While the winter activities are what attracted the majority of new students to Ottawa, they are now devastated at their inability to enjoy any of these advertised activities. When we asked about how he’s been enjoying the winter activities, Mark was disheartened, saying, “I tried ice skating on the Rideau Canal, but I couldn’t feel my toes after 5 minutes.”

Mark’s not the only student with regrets. Environmental studies student Abel Bernard detailed his experience to the Tomato.

“I have a lecture at Marion. In order for me to reach the building on time, I have to skate there! The pavement is basically ice, with everyone slipping and sliding. I have to be super careful not to skate over anyone that’s fallen.”

Other students have just been staying indoors altogether, leading to an unprecedented lack of class attendance.

“We just stock up our freezers and stay in,” says Jeanne Thomas, a first-year biochemistry student. “It takes a lot of energy to go out, and last minute cancellations are a daily thing.” she claims, “I missed all of my first week classes, as well as all the 101 activities, I just stayed in and marathoned Netflix.”  

This chaos has also been confirmed by doctors in the U of O medical clinic, who have been overwhelmed by the recent number of patients they’ve received. “These poor students just wanted to go to school, they didn’t ask to suffer” said Dr. Martina Rely, senior counselling psychologist.

“I regret this decision everyday.” says Mary Bateman, a first-year kinesiology student and a patient of Dr. Rely. “I am constantly thinking about leaving. I don’t know how I got such bad frostbite, especially in September.”

Students’ inability to endure the weather has led many to move to other universities.  

“Hundreds of first-years are leaving the city or exploring other options. The University of Southern California and UBC are hotspots for these students.” says Nancy Campbell, career counselor at the student services center. A few dozen students have already transferred their credits and are ready to move next semester.

Experts say that this crisis is likely to cause the university to take a hit financially. “First the Saudi student crisis, then this weather…” said Michael McLeod, senior financial officer in the student accounts department.

“But, I mean, look at the bright side, maybe we’ll finally lower tuition fees to attract more students.”