The recent temperature drops in the last few weeks has had everyone shivering and crying out in protest whenever they open a door to the outdoors. There have been many accidental wipe-outs on the ice and many minds asking the question: “Are classes cancelled?”
Wittenberg’s weather policy is, in short, vague. There are some specific procedures for athletics, or music performances, but this year’s student handbook makes no mention of what to do when the entire school closes for weather reasons. This is a departure from the last few years of the student handbook, which have all said relatively the same thing: “A weather-related closing will only be implemented under severe and extreme weather conditions, including when the Clark County Sheriff’s department has declared a level 3 Snow Emergency” (quoted from the 2016-2017 Student Handbook).
A “level 3 Snow Emergency,” according to Clark County’s website, means that “all roadways are closed to non-emergency traffic” and “no one should be out driving during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel.” However, what counts as conditions that are severe enough to warrant these precautions is not mentioned. Faculty were issued an email on Jan. 18 with information regarding inclement weather, which included the above quote, but students were not given this information, unless they went to a teacher. Last semester, when the campus was hit with an ice storm that caused branches to break and made walking on campus slightly hazardous, the student body was issued an email from Chief of Police Jim Hutchins warning them of the conditions. But this semester, students remain in the dark as to how cold it needs to get for the campus to close.
The entire “Safe Living” section of the 2016-2017 handbook, that included not just rules for dealing with snow, but emergency numbers, security camera policies and what to do with fires, was completely omitted from the 2017- 2018 Wittenberg Student Handbook (which is the same handbook used for the current academic year), shortening it by over 200 pages. The focus is then drawn to Student Conduct Policies and General Policy statements, which are certainly important. But this begs the question: why omit the Safe Living section?
It is important to consider Springfield’s overall lack of weather emergencies. There is the occasional – though rarely dangerous – tornado warning, and the campus does get flooded frequently. But for the most part our weather, and our winters, are relatively mild. Currently, the student body is unaware of what the university defines as a weather emergency, and what all of the campus’s weather policies are.