Snow has overwhelmed campus this week.Fourteen inches of snow, to be exact. Beginning on Saturday night and coasting through the entirety of Super Bowl Sunday, the amount caused all schools within the Goshen and Elkhart counties to put their learning on pause for the day. All schools except for Goshen College, that is.
Firstly, I’d like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to the snow crew from the Physical Plant for working as hard as they did in order to clear all sidewalks, walkways and parking lots by Tuesday. The amount of snow didn’t make things easy for you, so on behalf of everyone on campus, thank you so much for making the walk to class on a cleared sidewalk possible. I’d like to extend another thank you out to the school’s custodial staff as well. With more snow, there are more slippery entry ways and hallways. So, thank you for thinking of us and considering our safety when the weather makes things challenging.
While I admire the college’s persistence and desire to continue onward with the normal class schedule despite the weather, I, along with many other Goshen college students, was surprised to see the school remain open on Monday. Not because I was expecting the school to close the minute GC caught wind of the other closures, but I had expected the school to cancel their classes out of respect and consideration for the commuting students and staff who aren’t living on campus.
What kind of message are we, as an institution, sending by expecting all commuting students and staff to make it to campus for class when the roads are not safe to drive on? What do we value more? A few fifty-minute class periods or a student’s life? We are fortunate enough to have a balanced mix of commuting students and students living on campus at Goshen College, and this balance provides classes with a nice mixture of perspectives and opinions. But we as an institution are liable for all students attending classes and cannot suggest that a five minute walk from the apartments to Newcomer Center is the same as a twenty-minute drive down the back roads of Elkhart.
State of emergency or no state of emergency, travel advisory or no travel advisory, it is the responsibility of the school to make sure that all students—not just the students living on school grounds—are safe. If cancelling classes after a severe snowstorm prevents dozens of commuting students and staff members from risking their safety and their lives driving to campus, then it should be something that is considered.
I understand that the school has certain regulations about what needs to happen in order for school to cancel, but I firmly believe that the safety of others is more important to uphold than a list of bullet points on a sheet of paper. Especially when it comes to the lives of individuals that make this educational environment as special and unique as it is.
You may tread lightly on the cleared sidewalks and walkways around campus, but when the next serious snow storm comes our way, please treat the value and the safety of our commuting students and staff members with the utmost weight.