As snow days pile up, so does concern for lost time
February 18, 2008 —
With all of the snow that SVSU has had over the past month, the speculation and growing concern for the lost time and what is to be done about it is constantly increasing.
SVSU has set a new record this year with the massive amounts of snow that have accumulated on the grounds. The school hadn't experienced this much snow since 1908. As a result, the institution has already closed for three and a half days.
"My perspective is that we've already hit too many days off," Vice President of Administration and Business Affairs Jim Muladore said. "But it's only half way through the winter."
The office of Administration and Business Affairs consults with campus facilities and SVSU's president to call the days off.
Since universities look at weather conditions in different ways that K through 12 schools do, the reasons for canceling school are based upon the circumstances of students, faculty and staff and whether or not they will be able to transport themselves to the campus. This concern weighs heavily on the choices that are to be made each time bad weather hits. Since a large portion of the school commutes, officials have to decide if it is worth it to keep the school running that day.
"The personal safety of friends and family is more important than having a snow day," Muladore said. "Hopefully we don't get any more snow days."
The decisions are established on not only the weather but also if the parking lots are able to be cleared and people have a place to park. But once cars are already parked and the snow falls, it's hard to clear them.
Overtime expenses go into paying the people to clear the parking lots and roads to prevent cancelled classes.
However, each snow day accounts for the loss of nearly $250,000 to $300,000 a day.
No state laws govern how many days SVSU has to be open, which means that there is no limit to the amount of snow days the University may encounter.
Along with this, SVSU isn't required to make up those days at the end of the semester either. The academic calendar is set and the semester will end at the prescribed time. Due to time constraints, nothing can be done to reset the academic calendar.
To lessen their workloads or get other things done on days off, many people still show up on campus to work on various things.
"It's amazing how many students, faculty and staff are in the building on these days," Vice President of Academic Affairs Don Bachand said.
When dealing with lost lecture and lab hours however, it's a different story. At this point in time, the days off are lost. It's not only academic instruction that has been lost but also administrative work.
Because work days aren't rescheduled, much of the staff finds ways to make up for that time by staying extra hours or even coming in to work while the campus is closed.
With the new technology that SVSU has to offer, namely VSpace, most faculty members have ways to communicate with their students between the day their class was canceled and the next session.
"I think we're in much better shape now because of the electronic means of communication," Bachand said.
Academic affairs and faculty work individually with classes and it is up to them to find ways to get back the time that has been misplaced. With finals following a week after the semester ends, students are already stressed and pressed for time to finish last-minute assignments and study for finals. Worrying about making up missed lecture just becomes insignificant. Faculty can schedule extra time with students if they choose but many find that they don't need to. Professors are prepared with flexibility in scheduling and prepare themselves for days that may be missed.
"I usually try to schedule courses to accommodate," professor William Barnes said.
"The problem with snow days is that the scheduling is so tight that accommodating is difficult."