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The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

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Inclement weather brings commuter student safety to question

Inclement weather brings commuter student safety to question


During inclement weather, there is always the issue of whether or not to attend school if it is open, or to remain at home. This choice becomes even more problematic for the commuters of the University of Mary Washington, who have to drive in order to attend their classes or risk gaining more absences.

Although there is the saying, “use your best judgment” it could be a major issue when facing the decision to drive in bad weather or miss out on important class information. I believe that the University of Mary Washington, for the most part, makes good decisions for all of the students involved, and choosing how many days to close can be a hard decision to make.

Hillary Lebedun, a senior double majoring in business administration and English, said, “The procedure itself is’t bad, I think the notification system works well for me and as long as they announce it before I have to leave for my commute then I have no complaints.”

I feel the same way about UMW’s weather notifications. UMW does a good job of informing the campus of decisions about the university. “Yes, although, I think the school does okay with regards to snow closings,” Lebedun said when asked if she ever found herself having to commute in bad weather when UMW didn’t close. “My main concern is that there [have] been many times I could not safely drive because of rain.”

She continued, “mornings with terribly strong storms are just as unsafe as snow; not only with poor visibility but also with hydroplaning. Yet, by not allowing for storm delays, my choices as a commuter are either brave the dangerous conditions or be late/absent for class obligations. I do not think that is a fair trade-off.”

This was extremely enlightening because it brings forth a new way to look at what all commuters must face. Usually, when I think of inclement weather causing school closures, I think of snow. But bad rain storms could be just as dangerous as snow and it would be nice if the commuter community were considered more in this respect.

Gary Baldanza, a senior commuter majoring in computer science, also commented on this issue. “It’s more important for the university to handle the majority as best they can. I don’t find it a matter of fairness to drive in dangerous conditions any more than it’s fair to have to skip when you get sick or have a family situation. Things happen, including weather, so establishing a good dialogue with the professor is important.”

Being a commuter myself, I feel that the university does take the whole campus community into account with their decisions to close or open in certain weather conditions.

However, it would be nice if there were less of a penalty for choosing to stay safe in dangerous conditions, rather than braving the odds to make it to class.