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February 13, 2013

Campus closes again after more winter weather

By Emily Scharf

Cleveland has seen especially harsh winter conditions this year, forcing Cleveland State University to shut down three separate times since the beginning of January.

The first closing came on Jan. 2 as a result of the New Year’s Day snow storm, with the university shutting down early and remaining closed through Jan. 3. This closing primarily affected faculty and staff, as students were still on winter break.

The second closing was Jan. 28, following suit with hundreds of other Ohio schools who closed due to bitter negative temperatures and wind chills. According to Cleveland.com, the average number of sub-zero temperature days for Cleveland in a given year since 1950 has been 3.5 —a number that has nearly doubled this winter with 6 sub zero days throughout a three-week timespan.

The most recent closing happened on Wednesday, Feb. 5 for all classes and activities after 3 p.m.

Many students are wondering why the university waited until the afternoon to cancel classes on Feb. 5, seeing as though the weather conditions of this particular winter storm had begun the evening of Feb. 4 and were not expected to stop until Feb. 5 at 5 p.m. By the time Cleveland State announced its closing, the storm had almost passed Cleveland. These severe conditions resulted in many students missing class the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 5 even though classes were still in session.

Robert Shelton, associate professor in the department of history, said he did not penalize students if they missed class or showed up late last Wednesday due to weather conditions.

“I know it took me about two hours to get to campus that morning, and so I was certainly understanding of the problems students had,” he said, adding that he was surprised how many students made it to class despite the terrible conditions.

John Soeder of University Marketing said the decision to close on Feb. 5 was based on a recommendation by the City of Cleveland.

“In an effort to minimize traffic congestion that afternoon, city officials devised a plan for a ‘staggered dismissal’ for downtown businesses, organizations and institutions,” Soeder said. “CSU complied with this recommendation.”

Dominic Armstrong, an Engineering major said that he was upset that his afternoon classes have been cancelled twice.

“They’re not blow off classes,” he said.

CSU student Kyle Biggs said he thought closing was the right thing to do.

“It saved everyone the trouble of being out in that weather,” he said.

Weather conditions have been exceptionally awful this winter, so much that Governor John Kasich has asked to extend the number of calamity days for this year only in order to accommodate. Unlike K-12 schools, colleges and universities do not use the term ‘calamity day’ to describe when they close, according to Soeder, and CSU does not have a set number of days allotted for class cancellations or closings due to bad weather or unsafe conditions.

This chain of class cancellations is making it difficult for professors to efficiently teach students, leading to backlog of work and an extra load on both faculty and students.

Michael Adams, professor in the department of Mechanical Engineering, said that he has lost five and a half hours of lecture time in his Mechanical Vibrations course which meets on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 4-5:50 p.m. To make up for the lost time, Adams has moved his three exam review sessions which were scheduled for normal class time, to Friday evenings during the same time slot.

“I realize that is not a popular time slot on a Friday, but at least the students will have the choice and opportunity to attend,” Adams said. “If there are more classes called off, I will have to give fewer in-class quizzes and perhaps even make the exams one hour instead of two hours,” he continued, adding that so far the situation has been completely manageable.