Canceling School Because of Snow is Irresponsible

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Canceling School Because of Snow is Irresponsible

Rune Torgersen, Copy Desk Chief

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Canceling school because of snowy weather is a far-reaching solution that has more unintended consequences than one might initially realize. It’s easy to catch oneself partially hoping for a day off every now and again. A snow day seems like a way out of the daily grind, and it’s easy enough to back up the call for one with concerns about traffic conditions. However, a more delicate solution to dealing with inclement weather would be worth examining, as canceling all of a university’s operations because of snowfall would be a mistake, both financially and academically.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume most students paid the Washington resident quarterly tuition and fees of $2,690.56 for winter quarter. Let us then go on to assume that this student has classes equally distributed throughout a five-day week, with three classes every day. According to CWU’s website, there are 50 instructional days per quarter. If one does the math, this comes out to $53.81 that this hypothetical student is paying for every single day of classes this quarter. If one of those days of class is canceled, that’s $53.81 out the window, as there is currently no system in place for refunding students for canceled classes. Considering that winters in Ellensburg are consistently bad enough that they might warrant a school cancelation on the west side of the mountains, throwing that money away every time snow makes travel difficult would be a massive waste.

And then there’s the whole reason any of us are here: to learn. According to CWU, approximately 2,800 students currently live on campus. Presumably, those 2,800 students would have no issue whatsoever walking to class barring something like the ice rain the region got in 2017. I think that, in lieu of doing a sweeping cancelation of classes over snow, it should be left to professors to facilitate the students who can’t make it to campus because of road conditions. It’s fairly simple to email an instructor about ways to make up for class time lost, but if there was no class to attend in the first place, a whole day’s worth of potential education ends up missing from the curriculum. This puts undue pressure on instructors to finish teaching planned material in less time than they initially thought they’d have, and inevitably leads to a lower-quality education than CWU would like to provide.

Since an education is something we pay for up front, and choose to commit ourselves to, canceling class because of snow is a reckless decision that directly impacts the value of the time we spend here at CWU. In a high-school setting, where class is compulsory and publicly funded, canceling classes comes at no direct cost to students, as the yearly schedule can be modified to accommodate days lost to the whims of the weather. But in college, barring catastrophically dangerous inclement weather, losing a day of learning just isn’t something we can afford.

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