Snow days a rarity for Ohio State’s main campus
Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 23:01
For many students, each snowfall brings the hope for a day to be called off from school, but at Ohio State, snow days have proved unlikely occasions. Over the last three decades, OSU has only called off seven full days of school due to severe weather.
“The university takes very seriously its obligation to provide the full measure of instruction to tuition-paying students, so for that reason we try to remain open,” said OSU spokeswoman Amy Murray.
The last official full-day class cancellation at OSU was Feb. 16, 2010. While students at OSU might be subject to more snowfall than some other universities, it is still a rare event for a snow day to occur.
“In the last 32 years, the Columbus campus has closed seven times for an entire day,” Murray said. “That’s not a lot, and that goes back to the Blizzard of ’78.”
There’s a process involved with deciding whether to cancel classes due to excess snow or ice. To secure a snow day, several OSU departments, administrators and officials collaborate, and President E. Gordon Gee makes the final decision.
Some departments involved on the administrative team that assesses snow day factors include Emergency Management, University Police, Facilities Operations and Development, Student Life and Transportation and Traffic Management.
Murray said administrative members take into account several variables when analyzing the impact of weather on campus life, including if roads, parking lots and sidewalks are clear.
Other factors include whether buildings are and can be kept warm, as well as if the weather actually poses dangerous risks to students.
Lauren Bedal, a third-year in dance from Chicago, said safety should be one of the most important factors in determining snow days, but has never felt unsafe on campus during severe winter weather.
“Being from Chicago, the amount of snow we get here is really not that much from what I’ve had before,” Bedal said.
According to OSU policy, administrators will attempt to decide on a snow day by 5 a.m., and if one is called, there will be efforts to notify students through email, web announcements or the media shortly after.
Murray said that even when a snow day is called, some university offices remain open.
“We also have the Ohio State University (Wexner) Medical Center, and it never closes,” Murray said.
There are also “essential personnel” who, according to policy, are described as “one whose presence is required regardless … of the canceling of classes, and whose absence from duty could endanger the safety and well-being of the campus population.”
Cara Watkins, a second-year in education, said she thinks OSU has done a good job of keeping students safe from winter weather but said a snow day would be exciting.
“I think it’d be nice to have classes canceled … and to be able to go hang out with friends or catch up on homework,” Watkins said.