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Late call on a late storm

WSC student Allen Arauz scoops snow in the Rec Center parking Lot.

Derek Pufahl, Staff Writer

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A number of faculty members made their way to campus last Thursday through the heavy snow, ready for their 10 a.m. courses, not knowing they had been canceled.

A foot of snow blanketed the city of Wayne last Wednesday night, causing hazardous road conditions, stranding a number of vehicles and causing Thursday classes to be canceled and campus offices to be closed.

Jay Collier, Director of College Relations, emailed the WSC administration’s decision at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday. The email informed students, faculty and staff that classes would start and campus offices would be open at 10 a.m. due to the severity of the weather.

Then, at 8:55 a.m., a follow up email was circulated: “All classes are canceled today. All campus offices are closed all day. Dining hall and residence halls are open regular hours.”

This second email came as a surprise for some people.

WSC professor of business Gerard Ras lives a half hour out of Wayne and was already well on his way to the college by 8:55 a.m.

“They announced a ten o’clock start. I figured, looking outside, that I’d have no problem making that,” Ras said. “As I got closer to Wayne, there were very narrow roads, sometimes just one lane roads. I got semis coming at me going 50 miles an hour.

“I get to Wayne, and to my surprise I get to Gardner Hall parking lot, and there’s like a foot of snow that hasn’t even been touched. They hadn’t even begun to clear it off. I couldn’t even get into the building.”

Ras then checked his email and found that classes had been canceled.
“I wasn’t going to go back though, with the road conditions, and then you’re wondering if this couldn’t be called earlier than 9 o’clock.”

According to Jeff Carstens, Vice President and Dean of Students, a decision to cancel classes or have a late start or close the campus due to severe weather begins days in advance by constant monitoring of the weather forecast, weather alerts and road conditions.

The final decision is made by the WSC president based on a recommendation by the vice president for student services and/or the vice president for academic affairs.

Carstens said that the 8:55 a.m. notice was sent out once a determination was made that campus streets, lots and sidewalks could not be cleared well enough to allow the campus to open.

“It took time to accurately monitor the number of snow removal staff able to report to work and the amount and type of available equipment needed to remove the wet, heavy snow that had fallen,” Carstens said. “It took until 8:50 a.m. to make the decision to close the campus.

“We are examining whether notices, such as changing from a late start to a cancellation, can be made earlier. Our goal is to provide a more timely notice. This storm resulted in a higher than predicted amount of snow, and the wet heavy snow was more difficult to clear than is typical.”

“It’s been an unusual winter,” Carstens said. “Not including the three days this semester, I can recall only two other days in the last 20 years that the campus was completely closed due to a snow storm.”

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Late call on a late storm