MU’s botched snowjob

By Katie Pohlman

PUBLISHED AS A PART OFMANEATER V. 79, ISSUE 55

University administration’s late cancellation left students, faculty stranded and streets jammed.

Snow? What snow?

It seemed as if MU administrators didn’t look out their windows or check the weather the morning of Thursday, Feb. 21.

A snowstorm rolled through Columbia, canvassed the campus in white, surpassed early predictions of 4-to-6-inch snowfall and dumped 10 inches all over Columbia.

While the city’s public schools took precautions and canceled classes for the day, MU administrators seemed to stick their fingers in their ears to drown out the winter storm advisory warnings. Before February, MU had only canceled classes seven times in its 174-year history – a point of pride for the university. Administrators weren’t about to change that.

While the snow fell steadily around 8 a.m., students and faculty trudged across campus on packed sidewalks that would not be cleared until the snow stopped that night. No official word from MU.

By 11 a.m., 5 inches had fallen and individual teachers were taking the decision whether or not to cancel classes into their own hands. As the snow continued to pile up, MU administrators seemed to just twiddle their thumbs, hoping it would stop soon.

It seemed as if it took Gov. Jay Nixon declaring a state of emergency for university administrators to decide it might be a good idea to cancel classes for the rest of the day. An hour after the declaration MU Alert announced that school was canceled and sent students and faculty home – if they could get home.

Executive Director of MU News Bureau Mary Jo Banken told The Maneater that because the snow didn’t start falling until after 8 a.m., the decision to cancel class and close the campus was delayed.

“Close to noon when the forecasts changed and the governor declared a state of emergency, we reassessed the situation,” Banken said. “We decided it was in the best interests of the students (to cancel classes).”

Major roads around campus and throughout Columbia were yet unplowed, jammed with cars sitting bumper-to-bumper and dotted by snow-related vehicle accidents. The city had already canceled bus services, leaving students stranded.

The city and university’s handling of the snowstorm caused an uproar. Students fed a long list of complaints to Twitter and Facebook as they struggled to make their way across campus. Some wrote to The Maneater to express their opinions on the issue.

Students, faculty, staff and Columbia residents set out to help those left struggling by Mother Nature by clearing the pathways and forming a rescue squad to help students stranded in cars all around campus. The Student Center and ResLife opened their doors for campus employees that needed a place to stay.

When a severe snowstorm struck again, MU was quick to cancel class.

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