Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow demons!

The litany always starts early. The more hype the local weather idiots lay on, the sooner the calls start:
  • "Didja hear about the storm on its way?"
  • "Do you think we're going to get snow/ice/locusts/frogs?"
  • "Is it supposed to be really bad?"
For day classes, it takes a documented Act of God or a Decree from the Chair of Peter  to cancel classes. Better to have several hundred immature, over-sexed maniacs sitting in their classrooms, rather than bored (and therefore extra-imaginative when it comes to mayhem) in their dorms. The call to cancel classes -- wildly infrequent -- is made by 7:30 AM. Even so, many profs end up coming in, because they are on the road by the time notice is issued.

Night classes are a different story. Evening division is about 85% commuters -- mostly adults coming from full-time jobs -- and traffic/road conditions are always a factor. Even when classes are not canceled, if the weather is bad enough you'll have mostly empty classrooms. The call to cancel evening classes is always made between 3 and 4 PM -- and if off-site/off-campus classes are canceled, usually on-campus classes are canceled, as well. (Hooray for parity!)

The calls and e-mails increase (in frequency and hysteria) as the afternoon wears on. There's a ratio of storm hype to  length of class to amount of time before class. As the university never makes the call until the veeeeery last minute, generally I can expect my cell phone to explode between 3:55 PM and 4:02 PM.

The more ballsy among them will flat-out ask: "Are we having class? What are the penalties if I skip and claim bad weather as an excuse?" Annoying, but at least honest. The fact is, if there is a legitimate weather event, I can't do shit. The metric is common sense: "If you are worried for your safety, stay home."  This meas that i can make it in to class, and spend three hours sitting in an empty classroom because everyone was "worried about the roads." (This has happened more than once.)

In the last week, classes have been canceled once and delayed twice for weather. Looking at Accuweather, we have storms lined up for Thurs/Fri, and again Mon/Tues/Wed.

This semester is going to be a doozy.


  1. If the class is at the main mausoleum, the students might have a legitimate quandary. Road care is hit and miss back there sometimes, or at least used to be.

    I texted the instructor for my history class last night, but only because the phone tree was in his hands, not ours.

    I've already begged off attending tonight's class on facilities management. Between the '30 degrees and light drizzle' weather report, and what a fast food breakfast has done to my innards.... I'll take the hit for once.

  2. I had a medical appointment for 5:30 today. Given that it is now 34deg and raining, I can easily guess as to what the roads will be like when I would have left the office-- icy and slick as snot on a greased cookie sheet.

    So I canceled.

  3. Screwem... If you've got to show up, they should, and if they don't they get the unexcused absence... period

  4. Ha! I have at my disposal a virtual classroom tool (Elluminate) and my default status is that if the college is closed due to weather (or fire, flood, locusts, etc) as long as I have power and internet, I will run a lecture section synchronous over the web.

    All that is required is a computer and internet access. The software is all java for the students. So, basically no excuses unless the local power company is announcing widespread outages. About 2/3 still don't show up.

  5. Our local big university cancels classes with the same frequency that we change presidential administrations.

    Our local school district has, no lie, had a 2-hour delay due to fog. Our state recently told the schools to stop being such wusses and cut back on the allowed calamity days. The administrators have changed their attitudes a bit this year, but not by much.

  6. "Even when classes are not canceled, if the weather is bad enough you'll have mostly empty classrooms."

    They weren't in their offices either. Here in central Ohio we don't often get a hell of a lot of snow all at once and this winter has not been an exception. We've had maybe 2? snowfalls of 3-4" this year.

    So if InAccuWeather expects a couple inches, vast numbers "work" from home. On some floors you can hear crickets.


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