Looks like our current snow day will be the only snow day in response to the Blizzard of 2011. North Central College college recently announced that it will reopen at 10:00 AM tomorrow. Here’s the message they emailed to the student body about an hour ago:
North Central College will reopen at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 3. A delayed opening on Thursday will give the College’s staff additional time to remove snow from remaining sidewalks and building entrances and will allow the City of Naperville to clear side streets throughout the neighborhood. Given the amount of snow received this week, the campus community is advised that parking may still be difficult. All employees are required to report for work at 10:00 a.m. We appreciate your patience through this snow removal process and thank the College’s snow removal crew for their diligent work.
That’s all well and good, but conditions on campus were quite bad earlier today, and many students doubt the school will be able to use the additional two hours to fully clear the sidewalks and parking lots. Moreover, with 1043 of its 2423 undergrads living off-campus, commuter students make up 43% of NCC’s undergraduate body. Even if Naperville is totally plowed by ten o’clock tomorrow, it’s likely that road conditions will still be poor throughout the state.
Personally, I’m lucky: I live on a main road that’s plowed early, and my family and I managed (after struggling for more than three hours) to clear out our driveway. Other students aren’t so lucky; many people commute from small towns and live on side streets. Will they still be snowed in tomorrow? It seems likely that a significant number of commuters will be. Moreover, many professors live far from the school, and it may take them 45 minutes or longer to get to campus on a good day. I hate to think of my classmates and the faculty putting themselves at risk just to avoid having to schedule make-up classes.
I’ve talked to a few friends, and they seem to agree that the school administration might not have made the wisest decision. Furthermore, these feelings seem to be shared by many others at NCC. How do I know? In addition to their usual email and text message notifications of the school’s status, the school administration posted an update to their official Facebook page. Approximately one hour after that post was made, it’s received 50 comments. One was made by the school, and one simply states “YES”. The other 48 comments are all statements of unease about North Central’s decision or expressions of concern for commuter students and faculty.
Now, 48 comments might not sound like very many, but that’s nearly double the combined number of comments on all the other posts currently showing on the school’s page. Still, I doubt this little student protest will have any effect on the college’s choice to reopen. These comments may never even reach any of the decision makers at North Central. That being said, the possibilities Facebook offers for bidirectional interaction about campus policy decisions like this are very interesting to me. The school’s text messages and notification emails offer no real way to respond to such things, but by electing to share this information on Facebook, the college has implicitly allowed this announcement to spark a discussion—a discussion which appears to be running quite in opposition to NCC’s decision.
Update: It seems that the faculty aren’t thrilled about this either. A comment posted a few minutes ago on behalf of one of the professors states that “NCC’s decision to open at 10:00 a.m. shows as poor a judgment in managment [sic]” and that “NCC seems to be as cold as the wind chill.” Ouch. Harsh words, to be sure, and even harsher coming from a professor.