The battle of the college snow day

Ferris' newfound leniency on snow days is welcomed

Ferris famously has a reputation for not canceling classes for weather. However, that reputation may be changing, as a number of days were canceled due to snow this year.

With winter over, we can hope that the blizzards and six inches of snow are behind us. I remember there being a sunny day back in January and thinking that this winter would be a calm one. That was pretty foolish of me, as we had flurries, blizzards and snow fall, which caused Ferris to cancel multiple days of classes.

When comparing the snow days that occurred each year through Ferris history, Ferris has been much more likely to call a snow day in recent years. In the weeks leading up to spring break, we had two half days off, and many professors took the initiative to cancel classes themselves or move their lectures to Zoom. In the spring semester of 2019, there were around seven days called off for snow. Before the storm of 2019, it had been nearly two decades since a snow day was announced.

I, for one, welcome this shift in attitude towards the snow day. As a student, I obviously love having class canceled. A snow day is like a get out of jail free card. When you have spent the weekend stressing over an upcoming exam and the winter clouds bless you with a billowing blizzard, it’s one of the best feelings of winter.

For me, the potential of a snow day holds an excitement that goes back to when we were children. It is a time to enjoy the warmth of the homestead, get a toasty drink, watch the snow and enjoy a respite from the ever encroaching due date.

Of course, there are more empirical reasons to allow more snow days. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning reports that 43% of car collisions occur during hazardous weather, with 370 fatalities in the span of four years between 2016 and 2020.

Something like a dangerous commute should not be taken lightly, especially with a campus filled with the demographic of people that car insurance companies see as a liability. I’m looking at you 18-25 year old men.

For those off campus who rely on their cars to commute to Ferris, a sudden flurry presents a real danger. Canceling class for these conditions can save our faculty and students from a fatal crash, or at the very least the cost for a tow truck after being pulled out from a ditch.

The difficulty of the commute during the snow doesn’t stop at cars. For people with disabilities, a snowy, salted sidewalk can pose a serious issue. Wheelchairs can get stuck, patches of ice can be disastrous and at times sidewalks can be inaccessible if snow has been piled on top onto the walkway.

It is important to consider the experiences of the entire student body when choosing to have class during a snowstorm. I do not mean to imply that Ferris is not aware of these issues and not doing their part to address the dangers.

Universities like Ferris closely monitor the local weather reports. This allows them to identify the time that the snow fall will be at its worst and how that aligns with active university hours. Pairing such accurate information with a battalion of snow-fighting-mobiles allows the city to take care of the snow before brunch time.

The snow day we had on Feb. 27 was an interesting case because it was caused by a sudden flurry in the middle of the day. With snowfall during the prime time for classes and there being too much snow too quickly, the storm was too sudden for any meaningful snow-removal attempts to be effective. So maybe the university isn’t interested in being more lenient on snow days, but is instead dealing with harsher and less predictable storms.

Either way, this is my takeaway, and it is a moral I learned from “Jurassic Park.” Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

Just because Ferris can monitor the storm, push all the snow into parking spaces and salt the ever-loving hell out of the sidewalks doesn’t mean we should continue with classes as usual. Not everyone on campus has the luxury of snow tires, heated cars and the dexterity to avoid sheets of ice. Honestly, nothing is lost in taking the safest action of canceling classes.

In fact, some things are gained from taking a break and enjoying the winter weather instead of fighting it.