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March 29, 2011 - 8:13pm

Before You Were Here: The last time the University had a snow day

BY LINDSAY KRAMER

Despite all the snow covering campus, the chances of class being cancelled are slim.

But the story known to many students about a University Law student suing the University for money lost because of a snow day cancellation is an urban legend.

While the story is entertaining to prospective students touring campus, University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said it simply isn’t true.

“While there’s been a long-standing rumor about such a lawsuit, the University’s Office of the General Counsel has never found any record of it,” Cunningham said yesterday.

But University officials are still hesitant to cancel classes — the University hasn’t had a snow day since 1978 when 19 inches of snow covered campus.

According to a Jan. 28, 1978 article in The Michigan Daily, students spent the day lounging in the snow, with "Endless Summer" serving as their background music. In addition, some students also got sunburns from spending the day lounging in the snow, according to the article.

The storm caused classes to be cancelled for more than a day and because it came on the day of the add/drop deadline, that deadline had to be extended.

The storm’s widespread effect was so great that President Jimmy Carter declared a state of emergency for Michigan — ordering snowplows, patrol cars and National Guard trucks to help clear snow in the city, on campus and throughout the state, according to the article.

During the process of snow clearing, many other University events and activities were postponed, according to the article. The inclement weather meant food could not be delivered to the dining halls and campus eateries. As a result, dieticians had to get food from local markets to hold the dining halls over and keep students fed until food deliveries could resume.

Cunningham said the likelihood of another snow day is very rare because most students live on or close to campus.

“We basically never cancel classes because we’re a residential school,” Cunningham said. “People can get here.”

In the University’s nearly 200-year history, classes have only been cancelled University-wide two other times, once in 1945 and again in 1974, according to a Dec. 7, 2006 article published in the Daily.

The University's Flint and Dearborn campuses cancel classes more frequently because of the large commuter student population. Both campuses cancelled all classes and activities for the day at 4:00 p.m. yesterday in anticipation of the winter weather, according to an article published yesterday in the University Record.