On Saturday, Jan. 30, St. Mary’s county was hit by a massive snow storm, throwing much of the county into panic. The next day, when it was clear that roads would not be clear enough for professors and students to safely make it to campus and to classes, the school’s administration decided to close the school.
As per procedure, department heads were notified and they initiated a phone tree to tell their staff. Residence life notified RHCs and RAs. And an email was sent out to all students and faculty notifying all that the campus would indeed be closed on Monday, Feb. 1.
The only problem is that, as best as we can tell, the decision to close school was made sometime between noon and mid afternoon. Department heads and Residence life were notified shortly there after, and we know that an email was sent to RAs sometime around 4:00 p.m. In the next few hours (between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.) students found out from professors and staff that school would be closed. Needless to say, Facebook was ablaze with rumors.
Finally, at 9:30 p.m. an all student email was sent out confirming the rumors.
Now I understand the desire to give faculty and staff the first heads-up and even to notify Residence life before telling all students, but why the five-hour gap? It took those of us at The Point News from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to gather enough reliable sources, none of whom would go on the record, to confirm the rumors. You can chalk that up to our journalistic ineptitude or, and this is my choice, a culture of secrecy and fear.
Why would the administration choose to wait five hours before notifying students? According to several sources, the argument was to wait until a few of the liquor stores closed. While I am sure we all appreciate the concern, if this is true, that kind of paternalistic attitude is offensive.
Yes, all of this, without question, comes from a desire to be able to blow off work and go have fun. But it also comes from a desire to be treated as an equal part of this campus.
Almost without fail, when it comes to involving students or not, students are either not involved or are an afterthought. There was a five-hour delay in class cancellation notice. There are three times more faculty than students on the Presidential search committee. There was no student consultation before the implementation of Bradford.
I know it is the administration’s job, and they mean well, but this campus is our home. They do not work for some company whose action affects only distance consumers, they work for a college whose customers (let’s not forget that we students pay a lot to be here) live, eat, work, play, and exist right here.
So please show us that respect, and do not hide decisions from us in the name of our own good.
Finally, on behalf of all students, I’d like to thank public safety and the grounds crew for the hard work they did last weekend and are, as I write, doing again to clear paths and help stranded motorists.