At 5:13am on Friday the 4th, students who are subscribed to SAFE alerts received a text message to their phones saying classes and events for that day were canceled due to weather, but the timing of such an alert has caused greivence among the student body.
The snow day was something most of students expected. Adam Clark from Northland’s News Center reported Superior received 17.8″ that night. So what took UWS, for the second time this semester, to wait until after 5am to cancel school?
“Its always been our practice to wait until the morning of,” said Director of Marketing and Communications Lynne Williams. “We usually make the call between 3 and 5 am…We call facilities and see what the parking lots look like and the side walks—generally all of campus. We want to see how the weather unfolds.”
Many students dislike and find annoyance in this, which prompted the Student Government to act.
“The Student Senate unanimously passed a bill asking for earlier notification in concern for school closing as well as notification when school is expected to stay open when other schools close,” said SGA vice president Kara Schmidt. “We hoped to better serve all of our students who might otherwise suffer test anxiety, need to make arrangements for children, or dig out a vehicle. The response from Administration is that students would be inconvenienced by those emails and that it is impossible to inform students earlier.”
The bill was passed by the Student Senate unanimously, something the administration rarely doesn’t approve.
Williams said that the SGA wanted the administration to make a decision by 8pm the day before, and that that was something they could not commit to. “We don’t want to make a decision about something that won’t happen for several hours,” she said. “The snow could stop at midnight…We just don’t know.”
Williams explained that the one who makes the decision on whether or not to cancel school is Provost Dr. Faith Hensrud. She then tells Williams, who sends out the SAFE Alert to text students as well as post on the school website that classes are canceled. She then updates the emergency hotline, posts to the schools Facebook page, sends everyone an email, and calls the local television stations. “It all takes about 15 minuets,” said said.
“I personally feel that Administration is being negligent to the students and to Faculty,” said Schmidt.
Around midnight UMD and St. Scholastica had on their websites that classes for April 4 were canceled. Superior and Duluth school districts also reported cancellations around this time as well.