Staying warm on a snowy day: Snow day decisions

Every time the weather gets dicey, the seasoned student knows to check their Mount Allison email address for an increasingly familiar 7 a.m. email before venturing out into the shit.

“If it’s just on a certain day, we try to make the call as early as we can in the morning before 7 a.m.,” said Robert Hiscock, director of marketing and communications for Mount Allison. “Otherwise, the weather will dictate when we have to make the call.”

Opening a university during bad weather in Sackville poses unique challenges.

“We have a lot of faculty and staff who may live outside of the Sackville area. They may live in Moncton or Amherst or further,” said Hiscock. “[We consider] their safety… with respect to getting to work or getting home.”

“If you’re going to make the call that the university is open, then everything has got to be implemented,” said Hiscock. “So, all of the groundskeepers need to be present. Some live in Sackville. Some may live elsewhere. They need to be on site and actively engaged in plowing and snow removal, making buildings safe and walkways and so on.”

This need to mobilize staff contributed to the university’s closure on Feb. 3.

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“You get up in the morning [at] 5:30 to assess and part of what you’re assessing is, Can we mobilize to staff to come in to get open? It was determined [the morning of Feb. 3] that no, we are going to close it until noon,” said Hiscock. “The thinking being conditions would allow staff to be able to come in and all of the other preparations could be implemented for the university to open again at 1:30,”  said Hiscock.

After a reassessment, university staff cancelled classes for the remainder of the day, but opened the Library, Athletic Centre, and Student Centre at 1:30 p.m.

“If you say you’re going to open at 1:30, you better do another check at 10:30 or 11 to [see] if that is still a valid strategy,” said Hiscock. “And today just because of a combination of the weather and the road conditions and other things, we weren’t able to get the campus in the shape it should [be in], considering safety.”

Safety is the most important consideration, but others factors influence the university’s final decision, which ultimately lies with Robert Campbell, the president of Mount Allison.

“You look to the academic vision of the university. Students are here to attend school and get an education,” Hiscock said.

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