The Advance-Titan

Missing weather policy must be implemented

I’m sure most of you have experienced the dreaded days when you wake up and the weather is so unbearable you try to justify not going to class. I know I have. As the days and weeks progress we all know the undeniable: the winter weather shows no sign of staying at rest.

All of us can recall the miserable pain that comes only when braving the cold front with our bare faces, and it is insufferable. With that heinous feeling in mind, I think there should be a set temperature or amount of snowfall that once met, classes should be cancelled campus-wide.

I asked both the UWO chancellor and the campus Police Chief Leibold about our current winter weather policy, or if we even had one in place. They both told me that cancelling classes is a very situation-to-situation ordeal.

“We at the University Police monitor weather 24/7, 365 days a year as we are responsible for sending out emergency alerts for severe weather watches or warnings,” Leibold said. “It is really hard to make a policy on prerequisites for cancelling class as each winter storm is different and needs to be evaluated individually for the unique characteristics.”

Even if each winter storm is different I’m sure there is a temperature that has been decided by professionals in the field that once reached, is too severe to be walking around in.

According to a chart attached to the article ‘Here’s how long you can stay outside in extreme cold temperatures before getting frostbite’ from Business Insider, within only 10 minutes of walking in single digit weather paired with high enough winds you can contract frostbite. Now, walking from a dorm building to an academic hall can easily take over 10 minutes, depending on the location on campus.

Even though there is not a set- in-stone policy on the harsh winter weather, Chancellor Leavitt told me about how he supports any student’s decision to stay home if they feel unsafe going to class.

“We empower people to do what they believe the safest thing to do is,” Leavitt said. “The safety and welfare of everyone is my number one priority as chancellor.”

Now that begs the question: if I feel unsafe going to class, even though it’s with your support, will I get penalized by my professor? When I asked, I was told that it was encouraged to email the professor beforehand but not much else was said.

I know a lot of professors on campus can be exceedingly strict when it comes to attendance, and a simple email saying you aren’t attending class won’t cut it.

This is why, if there was a set policy in place stating that classes were cancelled, students wouldn’t have to face the tundra that is Oshkosh in the winter, and we wouldn’t have a disadvantage in the class we would be missing.

I talked with UWO freshman Meike Messick regarding how she feels about having a winter weather policy in place and what it’s like walking to classes while living in South Scott, one of the furthest dorms on campus from the academic buildings.

She feels having to walk to class in such frigid weather is terrible and can sometimes be unsafe. She also said she thinks having guidelines in place would be very accomodating, not only for students but professors as well.

“I think having a policy in place would be very beneficial. It can get very cold walking to class, and on windy days it makes it even worse,” Messick said. “I think it would also be helpful to have classes cancelled or even delayed when there is tons of ice because that makes it difficult and unsafe to walk on and to drive on for the professors. Walking to class in single-digit weather will make my eyes water and then have the tears freeze to my face.”

Messick brings up a good point. It takes longer to walk around on campus and can oftentimes become unsafe to walk on especially on icy days.

Before writing this article, I was under the impression it was up to the professor whether or not they wanted to cancel class due to weather, but it is entirely up to the Chancellor. This means that if there was a campus-wide policy it would eliminate the confusion that most students may have about their class being cancelled or not. Also, we wouldn’t have to check our emails every 10 minutes to see if we have to brave the cold front.

Overall, I think having a set policy in place for the weather would be very accommodating to all students and even professors, which in return, would be favorable for the administrative side of things.

Hopefully, within the next couple of years something will be implemented that will help make the brutal Oshkosh winters a little more bearable.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Missing weather policy must be implemented