Campus severe-weather policy mandates 'reasonable effort' of faculty attendance

By Adam Rubenfire, Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 1, 2011

Correction appended: An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported how staff members at the University would be compensated if they did not report to work today. Staff members may use a vacation day, take paid time off or take time off without pay.

Even before the snowstorm made its way into the Ann Arbor area last night, University officials started thinking about the blizzard’s possible effects.

The University issued a statement of its severe-weather policy on the University Record website yesterday to remind employees about the University’s severe weather policy, asking them to “make every reasonable effort to get to campus so that essential services can be maintained.”

The University’s Ann Arbor campus is open today, though classes are canceled at the University’s Flint and Dearborn campuses.

The University hasn't had a snow day since 1978, according to several previous Michigan Daily reports.

In a Feb. 2010 interview, University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said the likelihood of the University canceling classes at its Ann Arbor campus would be very rare since 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.”

University employees who don’t show up for work today must take the day off as part of their vacation time or paid time off, the press release states. Staff members, however, may choose to take the day off without pay.

“(Employees) are advised to use good judgment about the risks of travel,” the press release states.

The statement also says it is up to individual departments to decide whether their employees may leave work early.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said in an interview last night that employees should check with their supervisors regarding how they will be compensated if they can’t get to campus.

“However it ultimately get's taken, that’s really a discussion between employee and the supervisor,” Fitzgerald said.

Rackham student Chelsea Del Rio, a graduate student instructor in the History department, said she intends to show up for work today if public transportation is running properly.

“As long as there’s transportation, I plan on coming,” Del Rio said. “If transportation is prohibitive, I really don’t have another option.”

Robert Mickey, an associate professor of political science at the University, said last night that he was quite concerned about the severe weather because he was going to be on campus late into the evening last night.

“My fear is that I won’t make it home,” he said.

Mickey added that if he did teach today, he would probably be teaching in the same clothes he was wearing yesterday.

“The Haven (Hall) lobby looks nice,” Mickey said, joking about where he might sleep last night.

While the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus will remain open, Michigan State University announced yesterday afternoon that all classes are canceled today, according to MSU's website.

Mickey added that the University should stay open to maintain its reputation compared to its peer institution.

“Shouldn’t that embolden us to be superior and have class?” he said.

Wayne State University, Kalamazoo College, Grand Valley State University and Eastern Michigan University are also among the list of Michigan universities announcing class cancellations.

The snowstorm slamming a substantial part of the Midwest has universities in other states closing their doors as well.

Evening classes were cancelled at all Ohio State University campuses across the state last night. Northwestern University also cancelled its evening classes yesterday, according to the school's website.

Pennsylvania State University announced on its website today that President Barack Obama’s visit to campus, which was scheduled for today, has been postponed until tomorrow.

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was going to come to the University of Michigan today to give a lecture sponsored by the Ford School of Public Policy. However, because of the weather, the speech has been cancelled, according to a University press release sent out yesterday. The press release states that the lecture will be rescheduled.

However, some large universities plan to remain open. Indiana University’s website stated that while evening classes were cancelled last night, classes are not cancelled today.

— Daily Staff Reporter Kaitlin Williams contributed to this report.