University’s snow policy sees more use

By on March 2, 2005

Snow and school are two things that do not generally go together. Every snowstorm brings with it the possibility of class cancellations or university closings. There is a complicated method to making these decisions.

Unlike students’ pre-college days, there is no town administration or superintendent who deciding for Quinnipiac. The decision whether to cancel classes or to close the university is made by two people:

Dr. Kathleen McCourt, senior vice president for academic affairs, decides if classes are cancelled or if a delay is instated. Director of Facilities Joseph Rubertone decides whether the university should close.

The difference between these two possibilities is not as small as it may seem. When classes are delayed or cancelled but the university is still open, facilities, security, and secretarial and librarian workers are all required to report to Quinnipiac. The resident students, numbering around 3,000, need the services these people provide. However, these workers need not make the trek to work when the university closes.

The decision to close one or more aspects of the university is done by looking at the safety conditions around the immediate area of Quinnipiac.

“We have two major concerns when we make decisions about weather related closings or delays,” McCourt said. “The first is the safety of all the students and employees. Our second concern is keeping the work of the university on track.”

McCourt stressed the importance of keeping to the academic schedule. “Canceling classes sets everyone behind in terms of the work that needs to be accomplished in a semester,” she said. “In the case of some students that work will need to be made up later, which adds to the inconvenience of both students and faculty.”

The university saw one such decision occur on Monday Feb. 21. Snow fell overnight and continued as a light freezing rain during the morning commute. Quinnipiac was given a three hour delay, and classes did not start until 11 a.m.

“We delayed school opening because our best information told us the roads would be cleared and safe by mid-day but might not be safe at 7 or 8 a.m. when many people would be traveling to campus,” McCourt said. “We look[ed] very closely at the condition of our campus parking lots and the roads leading to campus.”

Some students feel that the university does not give enough consideration to its commuter students.

“For a school that makes a quarter of its population commute to school, Quinnipiac shows no concern for our safety,” William Foley, senior criminal justice major, said.

This is a delicate decision-making process according to Dr. McCourt. Some people get more upset than others, depending on what happens with classes.

“Some people [get] very angry [when classes are cancelled] as they feel they are losing some of what they were paying for with their tuition,” she said. “Similarly, when classes are not cancelled, some people get very angry because they feel it is not safe for them to commute to school.”

Whether classes are cancelled or not, students and staff commuting from off-campus residences should use their own discretion when it comes to making a snowy journey.

“Regardless of whether or not the university delays opening or cancels classes, we always tell every student or employee to gauge their own personal situation and risks and make a responsible judgment about their personal situation,” McCourt said.

Even with all of the considerations of university officials, there are still students who cannot understand the rationale.

“I think its ridiculous that Quinnipiac doesn’t close the school after a snow storm because you have all those seniors who live off campus that have to drive all the way to school,” Justin Loeb, senior accounting major, said. “With roads being dangerous, kids are basically putting their lives in jeopardy just to go to class. It’s not right and safety should be the issue that comes first.”


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