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What’s it take for OSU to cancel classes? It depends

Freezing temperatures with possible sub-0 wind chills have caused many students to voice their desire for OSU to cancel classes. Credit: Yann Schreiber / Lantern reporter

Freezing temperatures with possible sub-0 wind chills have caused many students to voice their desire for OSU to cancel classes. Credit: Yann Schreiber / Lantern reporter

With temperatures falling well below zero Thursday, many Ohio State students called for classes to be canceled.

The National Weather Service predicted a high temperature of 4 degrees and a low of minus 11, with a windchill as low as minus 22 degrees.

Although it’s rare for OSU, canceling class is not unprecedented. Last year, classes were called off for three days. The low temperature was at least minus 7 each time.

Administration and Planning spokesman Dan Hedman said before last year, a full day of classes had not been canceled since 2009. Overall, OSU has only canceled classes on roughly 11 occasions since 1978.

Bob Armstrong, the director of emergency management and fire prevention, said input for canceling classes comes from multiple groups on campus, including the Department of Public Safety, Student Life and CampusParc, among others.

“If anyone within that group thinks that the weather conditions may warrant a discussion … I’ll pull the group together and we have that talk,” he said. “Our goal is to make a decision before 5 a.m. the day of.”

Armstrong also said the group of organizations would make a consensus recommendation, which is sent to senior management at Bricker Hall.

The senior management then discusses the issue and sends its thoughts to the university president and provost. Armstrong said the president and provost make the final decision.

“There is no absolute temperature, snowfall amount or other specific hazard that triggers a closure,” Hedman said in an email. “Each situation is considered holistically — analyzing the entire picture rather than each individual component.”

Armstrong discussed three factors the group of organizations will look at when making its decision: Snow, ice, and temperature.

Thursday’s forecast called for extreme cold but no precipitation.

“Its all about the different conditions,” Armstrong said. “How long is the wind blowing? Is it a sustained wind or is it wind gusts?”

All of these questions are asked and discussed before the decision to cancel classes is made.

If the university decides students should attempt to brave the weather, Hedman offered a few tips.

“We recommend that students dress appropriately for the weather,” he said. “If they cannot attend class due to weather, as with any missed class, students are encouraged to contact the instructor and make arrangements. The university takes very seriously its obligation to provide the full measure of instruction to tuition-paying students, and for that reason, we try to remain open.”


  1. So glad that CampusParc, a company that makes money off of students attending classes, is part of the decision.

  2. In these extremely low temperatures, it is dangerous to walk to class especially on the massive OSU main Campus. Many other central Ohio businesses and schools have closed as a result of the bitter cold. I think it is insensitive to the needs of the students and faculty to require physical appearance in class during this historical cold trend. We live in a highly technical world, we have the internet available for podcast and for instructors to post assignments on Carmen. We should focus on the safety and the health of our students. Did senior management, the president and provost walk 15-20 minuets in the wind and cold before making their decision?

  3. College is a preparation for life in many ways.
    95% of employers expected and held employees accountable for being at and on time for work today.

  4. Dangerous conditions (e.g., frostbite), esp. for anyone who spends any time outdoors today after even a few minutes — like students going from one end of campus to the other to get to classes. But the administration probably arrived in door-to-door service in warm cars (perhaps with their own drivers) and will not have to suffer much…

    **WIND CHILL ADVISORY until Noon Friday**

    **WIND CHILL WARNING West of Columbus until Noon**

    TODAY: Mostly cloudy with a few snow showers. Wind chills at -25. High 6.

    TONIGHT: Clearing and bitterly cold. Wind chills at -20. Low -9.

    FRIDAY: Partly cloudy. Snow develops late. Wind chills at -15. High 16.

  5. Yes, Tone, that is true: 95% of employers expect their employees to show up today. But they also don’t generally require their employees to go outdoors and walk the equivalent of 4-10 city blocks every hour and a half while they’re at work.

    Oh, and they are businesses whose purpose it is to make money. OSU is not a business. At least it’s not supposed to be.

  6. One difference between OSU and other businesses is the parking situation. Most students, faculty, and staff have to walk a pretty fair distance to get to their offices or between classes. If we could park at our building or in a garage connected to or very close to where we needed to be (and not move the whole day), then I can understand not closing. I know it a tricky call, but at some point, the safety of students/faculty/staff has to take priority.

  7. I fell twice on campus Monday night between the Union and Neil due to lack of snow removal. It was truly hazardous on the sidewalks and it looked like no one from FOD had attempted to shovel all day. How about you get that fixed first and then start discussing if students should be out walking?

  8. You people making the comments do realize America was founded on many sacrifices of people that settled america in worse conditions. You are complaining about having to walk a little bit in some cold? What a bunch of whiners? What has our society become?

    And how about that global warming?

  9. E, those people also had slaves so if you’re really gonna make the “founders” argument, we should really ask the British what to do.

  10. There are at least 6 other schools in the big ten w weather patterns equal or worse than ours and they put on their scarfs gloves and hats and go to class. People working in downtown Chicago have to walk long distances to get to work and it’s a lot colder there. Suck it up buckeyes you decided to go here to school. You can move to Florida after you graduate if you can’t handle the cold

  11. Tone says:
    February 19, 2015 at 9:56 am
    College is a preparation for life in many ways.
    95% of employers expected and held employees accountable for being at and on time for work today.

    But at the same time most employers have a parking lot that is not a 20 minute walk away where the employees drive to that location. The majority of undergraduae students at OSU walk from the surrounding areas and even with access to the CABS you still have to walk a lengthy distane to that stop. Wait in the frigid cold and then walk another lengthy distance from the stop to the building. WHich in many cases is faster to walk and cut the bus out.

  12. E — You do understand that “global” warming refers to the entire planet over a long period of time, not just this week in our little part of it?

  13. I would be more than happy to have online instruction today. We live in a modern era of technological marvels yet we still have to face high humidity and wind chill to get instruction. It is our professors who are to blame for that.

  14. All in all, it might be colder in other parts of the world and people still function like a normal day, however, their bodies have adapted to it and they are more prepared. We students at the university come from all over the world and different climates. Many of us do not know how to battle the cold or we simple cannot go out because simple we can’t breath in the temp’s below +20 degrees. There is only so much clothing can shield you from and not all of us can buy super tech clothes to protect us from a wild weather curve.

    When it is too cold to go to church, too cold to let children go to school, then we should be allowed to stay home as well. With Tech and a program called Camtasia that the staff and students have access allows professors to put thier power points up and lecture at the same time with a video feed so it is like being in class.

    There is no reason for students to suffer the cold and even worse make those who commute and don’t live on campus risk car accidents and exposure to the cold. Face most cities and towns do not prepare for the snow and ice during the night so travel is safe in the morning.

  15. e, Global Warming is when the winters get colder and the summers get hotter. Educate yourself on something before you talk about it.

  16. You are all adults. If you do not want to go outside and walk to class then don’t. Welcome to life where you don’t always get what you want but you have the power to make your own decisions, just know that you are held accountable for your actions. Just quit bitching about it.

  17. Complaining about having classes? You know you can cut through most buildings on campus to warm up. Education: The only product/service that people are happy not to get what they paid for.

  18. Stop whining guys, If I can go out and walk door to door for 8 hours a day delivering mail in this then you can certainly survive a 15 minute walk to class without harm. Source- I was outside from 9-5 today and am just fine. If you can’t handle being cold for a few months a year you shouldn’t have chosen OSU in the first place.

  19. Going to school is not a job, I am not being paid to be here. I am actually paying a substantial amount of money to have my safety disregard.

  20. OSU Newark Student

    If I’m paying to go to college at osu, then I believe that the college should accommodate my needs and safety. If the weather is going to be as cold as it is, then the college should take different measures to make things better on the student. In temperatures like this, cars may not start, road conditions may be dangerous, and just walking from class to class is a challenge in this cold. My point is that here in Ohio we tend to have extreme weather changes that we cannot adapt to, and can be dangerous. There needs to be either more cancellations or a way of bringing the education to home. We pay for school there fore they should serve our needs as students.

  21. I agree that the University should be, at least in part, a place to prepare students for “the real world.” But I won’t complain about the whiners because the people who should be setting the best example are probably driving in from well off campus and parking either at or near where they go to their upscale offices.

    As in Bricker Hall. And the Union. And the Med Center, and so forth.

    I doubt our “leadership” has to walk far in this or any other kind of weather. Add their exhorbitant salaries, their bonuses, and their “car allowances,” etc. for good measure.

    Get your degrees boys and girls, and you too may one day become a well paid bureaucrat who need not suffer more than a minute of inclement weather at a time.

    Now I expect I’ve given everyone something worthwhile to whine about!

    Pretty please and you’re welcome!


  22. The number one need of paying students is to get the education you pay for, and that means going to class. It’s what students do. You pay these professors to teach you, make them earn their salaries and go to class. You don’t pay to sit in front of a screen and passively watch a video. Come on, guys. I thought Buckeyes were tough nuts to crack. Cold outside? Button up your overcoat, when the wind is free. Fall down and go boom? Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again.

  23. My guess is that relatively little of the CampusParc revenue stream is generated by one-time, single-use parking on any given day. They make their money selling the permits that students and faculty use throughout the year. That revenue is unaffected by rare occurrences like calling off classes for a day or two throughout the year. Most one-time parking revenue comes from hospital and clinic parking (at Morehouse Center, for example). Those stay open. The only serious revenue hit they may take on daily parking would be for cancelled events, such as at Schottenstein Center or the Blackwell.

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