University must improve policy on closing campus for severe weather

The recent blizzard that hit Northwest Ohio all but shut down schools and businesses across the region. On local TV stations, countless announcements scrolled by as schools closed down for Tuesday and Wednesday. Most of these announcements came early in the evening and continued on into the night.

However, on both nights, the University gave no such early announcement of cancellation or even a delay, instead waiting until early in the morning to announce cancellations.

According to the University’s Severe Weather Closing Policy, “efforts will be made to notify media, send e-mail, and post Web announcements by 6:30 a.m. on the day of closing.” While the policy was put into action, it was not done so early enough.

By 11 p.m. Tuesday, other colleges, such as the University of Findlay and Owens Community College, had cancelled all classes on Wednesday. The University of Toledo had already postponed Wednesday’s classes until 12 p.m., and then later cancelled for the remainder of the day. The decision for the University to close on Wednesday was not officially made until 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to the University Snow Hotline.

The BG News staff feels that the University should determine whether campus will remain open or closed in a timely manner. The University should also make more of an effort to follow policy with contacting students in the event of a campus closure.

The University placed a Web announcement on both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, but it is not noticeable enough. A banner at the top of the page stating that the campus was closed would be a better, more visible option than the small, orange circle located on the right side of the Web page.

Other universities in Ohio, including Miami University, the University of Toledo and Ohio State University, placed announcements on their student Web sites or on Blackboard. However, no such announcement was placed by the University on MyBGSU. Instead, it was left up to individual departments, such as the College of Arts and Sciences, to post MyBGSU announcements of class cancellations. The University should take the initiative to post a Blackboard message informing students that campus is closed instead of waiting for individual departments to do so.

Additionally, the University should send out an e-mail to all students, staff, and faculty announcing the closure. This is included as part of the closing policy, but was not done on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Most importantly, the University must decide at an earlier time whether to cancel classes or keep campus open. Opening the campus at 12 p.m. until a later decision can be made, much like the University of Toledo decided on Tuesday night, would help ensure that roads are safe to travel on for commuter students.

It would also be a benefit to students living on-campus, many of whom went to bed last night with no clue on whether campus would be open or closed.

There is also the issue of safety for students who have to drive to campus. By making these students wait until early in the morning for news on campus closing, the University runs the risk of such students not finding out until after they have left. Announcing Tuesday night that classes were delayed until 12 p.m. or canceled all together would have saved commuting students from both hassle and potential danger on the snow-covered roads.

By improving how early a campus closure is decided upon, and how it is announced to students, the University can save its students the stress and hassle of having to wait with uncertainty.