One week later, the weather has subsided, but the question remains: Why did the University choose to remain open during a severe storm that compelled MCC, Nazareth College, St. John Fisher, and so many other local colleges to close? The City of Rochester recognized the difficulty of the situation, opting to close every associated building and agency, from City Hall to Mt. Hope Cemetery. Even garbage collection was suspended.
UR should have taken the 17-inch hint that Feb. 16 was perhaps not the day to ask employees, faculty, and students living off-campus to brave the weather.
Several professors cancelled their classes or assured their students that an absence would be permitted. We appreciate their judgement in recognizing that the safety of their students trumped the importance of one day of class. Many professors were not even able to get to campus themselves, another sign of the administration’s misjudgment.
As for University employees, there’s simply no reason to expect librarians, custodians, and food service workers to navigate through what amounted to a blizzard. Though losing a day of campus dining would be highly inconvenient, that can be solved as easily as knocking on a neighbor’s door or walking to a vending machine. It wouldn’t have been ideal, but being pragmatic is better than being blind to the needs of your employees. Though “non-essential” employees were sent home early, that doesn’t excuse earlier actions.
Lastly, off-campus students shouldn’t have been asked to choose between attendance and safety. With snow falling continuously for almost the entire day, there was simply no window of opportunity in which they could have found their way to campus.
We would like to stress that the paragraph preceding this one is addressed specifically to off-campus students. Though the paths weren’t fully cleared until the afternoon, most students living on-campus should have had no problem getting to the classes that were in session that day. There was no danger for able-bodied, on-campus students trying to get to class. And, considering that most students will skip class for reasons far less compelling than a transportation-buckling snowstorm, it is disingenuous that they’d make so much noise about “risking their lives” to get to class.
The residents of the Gale House remain, as of this writing, uncompensated for the damages suffered by them from the burst pipe on Feb. 14. Some are shopping around for new electronics while others are looking for new sheets and furniture covers.The Editorial Board has expressed our support for compensation of the students in this space, and is particularly disappointed with the lack of a formal University response to either the students or the campus community.
We call on the University to answer for the sluggishness with which it has made students aware of the details of the incident. In addition, that it has not yet directly responded to SA President Grant Dever’s open letter shows a dismaying lack of attentiveness to the student body’s needs.
The University has a responsibility to keep its students informed on affairs relevant to their lives, no matter how unsavory they may be. Just over a month ago, we commended the administration for their transparency on the abduction of two UR students. So why keep students in the dark over Gale’s property damage? No official statement has been made available to all students—a majority of whom, at this point, are surely aware of the incident.
As for Dever’s letter, the Editorial Board strongly supports many of his points. Most relevant is his observation that this sort of situation, wherein students are forced out of their rooms for any period of time, “is not outlined in the University’s housing contract and students should be compensated for any lost nights in their dorm room.”
Dever writes that “at the very least, these students deserve an apology.” Although that sets a low bar for appropriate reparations, it would be a start.