How much snow is too much?

Campus officials don’t seem to want to cancel class due to snow


Photo by Brittany Walczak

All that snow makes for dangerous campus conditions that could be avoided by cancelling classes.

It’s the first week of April, and once again, it’s snowing.

This pattern is pretty typical for central and northern Wisconsin, though this year it seems to be a little heavier than usual.

All the snow covering the ground brings attention to one of the more annoying habits of the UW-Eau Claire officials. In a city that often gets heavy snow from November until late in the spring, the campus almost never cancels classes.

This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the dangerous conditions this amount of snow can cause. From accidents to parking problems, the campus turns into a horror movie as soon as the flakes begin to fall.

Driving in a city is bad enough, but with the irregularity that snow plows clear the streets of Eau Claire, commuting from even a couple miles is treacherous for students that don’t live on campus. Even good drivers have a tough time navigating the unplowed streets, and that’s not even accounting for other drivers with less than satisfactory skills.

Once you finally get to campus without an accident, the next challenge becomes finding a parking spot. This task comes with two huge obstacles—finding a parking spot that’s actually cleared out well enough to see the lines, or finding a spot along the street that isn’t illegal. As many students know, parking is already scarce without the addition of snow covering up driveway entrances and poorly marked spots.

On the tiny chance you actually make it to campus and park without too much difficulty, you now face the daunting task of walking to class across a campus that is trying to achieve its lifelong dream of becoming an ice rink. As much as I truly appreciate the beauty of all the curvy, twisting sidewalks, they really don’t bode well with snow and ice, and the amount of shovelling and salting it would take to keep them safe is pretty impractical.

In order to save themselves the hassle, one would think that campus officials would be more willing to cancel classes when conditions become this unsafe. Unfortunately, the campus instead has a track record of doing exactly the opposite.

In almost three years here, I have only experienced one single day where classes were cancelled, and it only applied to classes after 3 p.m. when a foot of snow had accumulated. Even just last spring, I woke up one morning to over eight inches of fluffy snow covering the ground, but the university stayed stubbornly open.

I can understand that it may be a hassle to notify 10,000 students in addition to all the staff and faculty of a cancellation, but I would much rather find out halfway through getting ready that classes are cancelled than put myself in mortal peril because they aren’t.

Please stop putting your students in danger, Eau Claire. All the other schools in the city close down when the snow comes and blankets the ground. Make the smart choice and put student safety first.