Closure Policy is a Danger to Students
By Chris Friend '14, Co-Publisher
As all of you are aware, the College closed down last Wednesday during another massive snowstorm. But as some of you are also aware, the College didn’t really close down. When I called the phone number that Amherst provides on the website, I gleefully heard a voice call to me, alerting me to the fact that Amherst was indeed closed, and that only essential workers were required to come to work that day. Apparently, however, college professors are somewhere between nonessential and essential personnel, as the final call on whether classes were to be held rested upon the professors. This policy is dangerous, first of all, to the professors. While the professors obviously have the choice of canceling their classes, some professors may feel undue pressure to hold class even in dangerous conditions. A number of professors have each class planned out from the beginning of the semester, and believe that even one missed day would wreak havoc with their schedule.

By allowing the professors a choice, it is quite possible some will make the unnecessarily dangerous decision to come teach classes. If the college administration has decided to close the College, this obviously means that they believe conditions are too dangerous for most people to travel. Some argue that there is merit in allowing professors to hold classes because they are rational beings capable of making their own decisions on safety. Fine, I say. Even if the professors are fine, however, this policy is dangerous for Five College students who take courses at Amherst. By not closing down classes (especially when every other school in the Five College system cancelled classes, as it happened last Wednesday) the College allows Five College students to travel long distances that they will not permit their administrators to travel. If the weather situation is dangerous enough so that members of the administration are not required to come to the College, why are Five College students any different? They face just as much danger and their attendance is just as important. Now, finally, even if the argument is made that “professors have the right to decide if it is too dangerous to cancel class or not,” the College has shown that it is unable to keep communication systems running! For a few hours on Wednesday morning, the Amherst e-mail was not available — merely an error screen. This created an incredibly chaotic system where no one really knew whether they had class or not as professors could not send e-mails and students could not receive them. In short, by creating a system in which individual professors have control over whether class take place, a system of inefficiency and chaos reigns supreme. More importantly, however, by leaving decisions about closing class up to professors, the administration places puts at risk both professors and students from the Five Colleges. In weather situations deemed to be dangerous, the College should be sending as few people as possible into the snow and ice. Until that point, we will have a closure policy that is illogical, frenzied and treacherous.

Issue 14, Submitted 2011-02-08 23:47:47