Winter weather delays and campus closings create questions for students

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Kayla Smith snow photo 1
Sample Street in close-to-whiteout conditions on Feb. 19. Photo credit/Kayla Smith

Staff Writer

Ice, wind and mounds of snow make it difficult to drive to school in the winter. When students feel they cannot make it to school, they hope for school cancellations that many times do not come.

IU South Bend wrote on their Twitter account, “We’re watching the weather closely & will announce if we #CloseIUSB due to weather conditions. Please be safe if you do venture outside,” before school was closed on Thursday, Feb. 19. Eight concerned students replied.

Twitter user @cdizzygttnbizzy wrote, “IUSB gives no consideration for people who have to walk across the bridge in this weather.”

Anne Peterson believed IUSB should have followed precautionary measures taken by other area institutions.

“I hope someone does the right thing and cancels. Ivy Tech just closed for the day. It’s not ok to expect people to drive in this,” she wrote from her handle @apeterson219.

The truth is it takes several people and much consideration to decide whether or not to close IUSB due to weather. According to Ken Baierl, director of communications and marketing, it requires counsel from the chancellor, campus police chief, director of facilities management and the chief of staff/director of communications and marketing to close the school.

“Temperature is not an issue unless it is causing problems with equipment, electrical, plumbing or heating in buildings on campus,” Baierl wrote in an email.

The factors that affect the decision include if snow can be removed in a timely fashion from the main streets in South Bend and from the campus parking lots, sidewalks and building entrances.

“Then the weather forecast is considered to determine if conditions will improve, stay the same or get worse,” Baierl wrote.

IUSB gives faculty members the authority to cancel their class at their discretion, but if neither the professor nor the school has cancelled classes, students sometimes choose not to go to school on their own.

However there is always the possibility of being counted as absent for that class. This is absolutely the professor’s decision, however Baierl said the administration encourages professors not to count it against the student if he or she cannot attend because of weather.

One student mentioned Ivy Tech’s closing, however IUSB “monitor[s] what other schools are doing but make[s] a decision based on circumstances at IU South Bend,” Baierl wrote.

   With the closing on Feb. 19, the announcement said that classes after 5:00 pm were cancelled. Many students had classes from 4-5:15 p.m. which were not cancelled. This made some students upset that all remaining classes were not cancelled as soon as the announcement was made.

How did the school pick the cutoff time for classes? The decision is, again, made by the chancellor with advice from the executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, the campus police chief, the director of facilities management and the chief of staff/director of communications and marketing.

“Weather conditions had deteriorated and we didn’t want students coming to campus after work,” wrote Baierl. “We also wanted the students already on campus to complete their daytime classes but still have time to leave before dark.”

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