Aleah Kennedy '18 prepares to sled down Libe Slope after classes were cancelled during Winter Storm Stella.

Michael Suguitan / Sun Staff Photographer

Aleah Kennedy '18 prepares to sled down Libe Slope after classes were cancelled during Winter Storm Stella.

May 3, 2017

Employee Assembly Debates Cornell Snow Day Policy

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In light of Winter Storm Stella and the following university shut down, the Employee Assembly addressed possible alterations to Cornell’s current inclement weather policy on Wednesday.

In addition, the Assembly revisited the results of the 2016 Employee Survey and the proposed academic calendars, which they discussed in the last meeting.

Prof. Charles Van Loan, dean of faculty, advocated for updating the policy, pointing out that the policy had not been updated since 2007, the last time Cornell closed due to extreme weather.

“One of the issues is this macho, ‘you better come in to work’ thing that seems to be out there, and that has to be addressed,” Van Loan said, referencing Cornell’s historical reluctance to cancel classes.

Noting the confusion the snow days caused from cancelled prelims, Van Loan suggested having a backup plan to deal with these situations.

“The trouble is there was no backup plan. If we’re going to have a prelim night that’s wiped out, two or three days in advance, you should have a complete backup of where the makeups will be,” he said. “That would have taken the heat out of the situation.”

One week after Winter Storm Stella, Van Loan created an email address for Cornell faculty and staff to suggest ways to improve the shutdown process. He received 330 replies.

A major theme in the survey responses was the difficult commute to Cornell.

“I don’t think there is appreciation for how far people live from the University,” Van Loan said.

Another issue that frequently came up was the apparent lack of forethought in cancelling classes.

“The main gripe is ‘I came in, and I was sent home, and now I’m doing the exact thing you were trying to avoid. You’re making me drive in terrible weather,’” Van Loan said. “You should not have these half days; that’s kind of crazy. You should make a decision.”

Updating the policy, he argued, would solve many of these problems.

“There are things that we can definitely do that are better,” Van Loan said.