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The Blue & Gray Press | November 23, 2017

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Staff Editorial: Going to Class in the Snow is Dangerous

College Avenue has been covered with sheets of ice, snow and tree branches since the “Snowpocalypse” hit Fredericksburg hard last Friday night.

In addition to the main roads by campus, many neighborhood streets remain buried under several feet of snow and ice.

However, despite the wintry conditions, the university re-opened Tuesday morning for classes, leaving many commuting students and professors out in the cold.

We understand the importance of keeping school in session.  Professors need to stay on schedule with their syllabi, students have midterms to prepare for and administrators have to watch out for phone calls from angry, tuition-paying parents.

Regardless, choosing to come to class shouldn’t be a life-or-death decision based on Virginia’s inability to handle snow.  The school shouldn’t be forcing students to choose between their education and their safety.

As one of the many universities in Virginia to be affected by snow, the UMW administration slipped when the decision was made to keep morning classes on schedule despite the previous “state of emergency”.

Germanna Community College, George Mason University, American University, Catholic University and James Madison University were all closed Tuesday due to hazardous conditions.

However, JMU has implemented make-up days when professors have the choice of holding class. They can also hold a make-up class at another time via the Internet, or integrate the missed lessons into future classes.

While this may not be optimal for students who crave snow days, this option seems far safer than trekking across ice under falling trees to get to class.

For students who live off campus, getting to class has been more trouble than it’s worth.  With many neighborhood roads left unplowed and icy highways blocking their way, they are missing out on crucial classroom time.

Many students choose to live off campus as upperclassmen, living instead in near proximity to campus.  However, there are still students from all grade levels commuting from Stafford, Northern Virginia and Richmond every day.

Some people can’t even get out of their driveways, yet commuters are expected to journey onto I-95 for a couple of classes.

Similarly, many students with internships have difficulties getting to their respective jobs, which can be detrimental when they are potentially as far away as Washington, D.C.  Many count towards credit, which can be lost if the student isn’t able to show up due to the weather.

While many professors are understanding of empty desks in the midst of the storm and are sometimes even stuck themselves, missing class can be extremely disadvantageous to students in the weeks leading up to midterms.

In an e-mail sent to students, it was recommended that commuters park in the lower levels of the parking garage due to massive amounts of snow in various lots near William Street and the old factory.

After a treacherous drive across campus based on this recommendation, a thick sheet of ice covering the top level of the parking deck awaited these students.

Until the administration wants to pony up and buy every student a pair of ice skates to get to class, we’d rather just stay in the safety of our residence halls and houses.