While a winter storm dumped a few inches of snow on Peoria throughout the day Tuesday, students trekked to class through the slush.
“We decided that we did not have indications we would be putting someone in danger by having class,” said Vice President for Business Affairs Gary Anna. “We thought it was prudent to continue having classes.”
Anna said calling a snow day is not a black-and-white decision.
“It’s not a perfect world, and sometimes we have to make judgement calls,” he said.
“If we see the makings of a disruptive weather pattern, we have some internal communication about that.”
Conversations about weather conditions begin in the Facilities Department with the grounds crew, Anna said. For Tuesday’s storm, the decision rested mostly on timing.
“We had conversations the night before, early Tuesday morning, mid-morning and in the late afternoon to touch base and give our opinions,” he said.
Anna said if conditions were dangerous for some commuters, they had the discretion to know whether they should stay home or attend class.
“Eighty percent of our student body lives on campus,” he said. “So we felt they would be able to make it to class fine. The main concern was for Tuesday night classes because we likely have more commuters in them. However, we thought students could make assessments as to whether they could safely drive.”
A Tuesday morning email from Director of Student Activities Tom Coy let students know that President Joanne Glasser was canceling her office hours for the day. Though Glasser was on campus that day, it made sense to move office hours to another time, Anna said.
“Because of the forecast, which predicted heavier snow in the afternoon, and the availability to move the date, there wasn’t a problem in moving the office hours,” he said. “It was just out of consideration.”
But some students said they felt if conditions were too bleak for office hours, classes should have been cancelled, as well.
“I feel a lot of people are angry that our safety wasn’t a concern especially students who commute,” said senior English major Angela Dragoo.
Sophomore psychology major Liz Bravo said she also did not understand why the office hours were called off.
“I just thought it was kind of unfair that the weather was bad enough to cancel office hours but we still had class,” she said. “But I wasn’t too upset over it.”
Anna said the easy thing to do in a severe weather situation is to close campus, but that’s not always the best option.
“But we focus on ‘can we operate reasonably well?’” he said. “In this case, we could. Had the temperature dropped two degrees and the slush started to freeze, we would have had a very different situation.”