Bradley University canceled classes and closed down for the first time since 2015 on Monday, as an early season snow storm welcomed students back from Thanksgiving break with approximately five inches of snow. Surrounding areas like Galesburg and Altona experienced about a foot, according to the National Weather Service.
At 5:40 a.m. Monday, the university sent out an email alert to faculty, staff, and students announcing the university closure.
University spokesperson Renee Charles said the decision was made after a lot of consideration by “the President and Provost in consultation with appropriate administrative offices.”
University President Gary Roberts indicated that Bradley would have been one of the few schools open in the region.
“The fact that virtually every other educational entity in the region had already made the decision to close for the day indicated to us that others in our position had weighed the factors and had made the call to close, and it added to the legal risk we might have faced had we remained open and someone had had a serious accident trying to get to campus,” Roberts said.
Charles said several factors played into the final decision to close down the university.
“In this case, we had numerous schools in the area closed posing an issue for faculty and staff to find childcare,” Charles said. “Also, the blowing and drifting in the morning posed a significant driving hazard. While we are a residential campus and our students live very close to where they go to class, we still needed to consider faculty, staff and commuter students.”
Residential students were considered as well, as the university sent out an email indicating residence halls would open a day early so students could travel back before the storm. Also, in he canelation email sent out Monday, the university announced residential dining halls would remain open.
Roberts acknowledged the downfalls of closing the university.
“While both the provost and I recognize the inconveniences associated with closing the University, especially to faculty and students who are trying to complete course syllabi and content and only a couple of weeks left to do so, the factors supporting closure outweighed those for keeping the University open,” Roberts said.
Bradley emphasizes the difference between cancelling classes and closing the University in its 2018 Inclement Weather Policy posted in January of 2018.
The policy indicates that unless the university formally closes, “any employee who is absent from the campus during periods of inclement weather or other event affecting University operations is required to use vacation, or in the case of bi-weekly employees, vacation or personal time.”
The policy goes on to explain why this differentiation is necessary.
“It is important to distinguish between class cancellations and any university closing because of the significant student residential population on campus and the necessary associated life and safety support systems provided to students by our campus,” wrote Nena Peplow, director of human resources.
Kerrigan Wenig, a freshman health science major, like many underclassmen, relies on her meal plan in the dorms.
“I live in Geisert Hall and keeping the dining hall open was very helpful. It was easier to access food and avoid going outside,” Wenig said.
Daniella Dennis, a freshman nursing major echoed this.
“Opening the dining halls was also a lot safer than driving somewhere to get food,” Dennis said.
As a result of the university closure, some campus events were cancelled, including ACBU’s launch of Lydia’s Lights, a winter-wonderland-themed event advertising horse carriage rides, a hot chocolate and dessert bar, and music.
“As of right now we do not plan on rescheduling the event for this semester with it being very close to the end of the year and finals coming up quickly,” said Megan DeSmet a junior nursing major and special event coordinator for ACBU. “I would like to see Lydia’s Lights return perhaps next fall semester, but that is up to the new coordinators.”