After the heavy snow fall began on Wednesday Jan. 26, I received an e-mail at 7:40 p.m. That meant only one thing to me – liberation. My 9:30 a.m. class had been canceled by my professor, as she realized the snowfall would prevent her from making it to Main Campus on time.
While I frolicked in the winter wonderland that night, the next morning I discovered very few students enjoyed the same luxury I had.
Fifteen inches of snow blanketed Philadelphia, yet university officials did not see any reason for a delay or cancellation. Some professors canceled classes personally as they themselves had trouble getting to Main Campus safely, but many still held class even though students had trouble attending.
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Anthony Wagner previously told The Temple News, “It’s been university policy that the university tries to open under virtually any circumstance.”
“[Maintaining class attendance] is obviously a part of keeping [students] progressing academically through the semester properly,” Wagner added [“University operations continue despite severe weather,” Maria Zankey, Jan. 27.]
Administration can do what ever is necessary to keep the university open for classes, but student safety should always come first.
Many Temple students said they felt forced to face the treacherous conditions in order to attend class, which put many in serious danger. This policy, it seems, is pushing administrators to thrust safety aside.
Steve Essig, a sophomore accounting major, had to trudge through the ice and snow to his 8 a.m. Race and Poverty course because it was not canceled.
“When I was up at 7:30 [a.m.] the conditions were deplorable,” Essig said. “I was slipping and sliding all the way to Barton Hall and saw no real sign of any work being done to improve the wintery conditions.”
Although many city and university workers were clearing the streets, it seemed as though the snow plows were compacting the snow, making the conditions more treacherous.
“Not only were the sidewalks not clear, but the roads weren’t either,” said Morgan Husted, a sophomore art history major. “I mean, I even saw police cars covered with snow. Shouldn’t that tell us something?”
This picture is painted by one of the 60 comments on the Jan. 27 The Temple News article Wagner was quoted in: “Ya, I saw a student in a wheelchair just stranded at the subway exit. She could not get 10 feet beyond the elevator cause the sidewalks were not cleared. So, Temple takes her money, tells her to make it to class and does not provide access … well done ‘Diverse University.’”
Perhaps the snow crews were unable to clear the streets because they were busy digging out, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Jan. 28, the 65 SEPTA buses that were stuck in the snow until Thursday morning.
This in itself should have been a sign to the administration that perhaps the roads were too unsafe.
No matter what the conditions were like on Wednesday, classes were still held. Some students attended their courses and Temple ran business as usual. But perhaps in the future, the administration will keep the safety of its student body in mind.
Wagner said to The Temple News, “I have to admit that I was disappointed the streets weren’t in better shape when I came in.”
Before making the decision the next time heavy snowfall hits Temple, administrators should walk the sidewalks themselves and see how dangerous such an icy, slippery walk can truly be.
Phillip McCausland can be reached at email@example.com