University cancels class due to snowstorm

By Irene Park, Daily Staff Reporter
and Amabel Karoub, Daily News Editor
Published February 1, 2015

The University has canceled classes and events on Monday due to inclement weather. This is the second time since 1978 that the University has canceled classes for weather conditions.

The Division of Safety and Security issued a notice of “emergency reduction in operations” late Sunday evening. The alert said classes and events would be canceled through 6 p.m. The University’s hospitals will remain open. Classes have also been canceled at the University’s Dearborn and Flint campuses, though those campuses cancel classes at their own discretion.

According to the National Weather Service, southeast Michigan is predicted to experience subzero wind chill and wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour on Sunday night, and eight to 12 inches of snow by Monday morning. Temperatures are expected to reach a high of 15 degrees and a low of zero degrees.

The last time the University canceled classes due to inclement weather was Jan. 27, 2014, the first time in 36 years.

Following the closure, the University established an updated policy to address concerns raised by the faculty, staff, students and parents.

At a meeting of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs last January, University Provost Martha Pollack said the University did not have a substantial plan in place to guide the closure of classes.

“By the time it became clear that we were facing an extraordinary weather event, we realized that we didn’t have appropriate mechanisms to close the University even if we wanted to,” she said. “Closing a university is more like closing a city than closing a building. You can’t just close; there is a hospital, there is a police force, there are students on campus who need to be fed.”

After last January’s cold day, the University created a committee to update its severe-weather policy. The updated policy, released in October, provides more detailed protocols for reducing service in the situation of severe weather. To do so, the executive director of the University’s Division of Safety and Security and the executive vice presidents assess the weather conditions and provide recommendations to the University president, who makes the final decision.

Eddie Washington, executive director the University’s Division of Public Safety and Security, wrote in a release that dangerous road conditions factored into his recommendation to cancel classes.

“Snowfall totals of 12 to 18 inches with high winds are making the roads dangerous, especially for the many faculty, staff and students who live outside the city of Ann Arbor,” he wrote.

Despite the closure, Atmospheric Sciences Prof. Perry Samson said he will still hold his class Extreme Weather, or AOSS 102. Students were “advised to stay home, but can use the class Echo360 technology to view the live broadcast.”

This story has been updated to include additional background and information from a University release.