By The Gatepost Editorial Board
Starting midday on Monday, snow began to fall in Framingham.
As the afternoon progressed, it only got heavier - blanketing the city with a total of 5.5 inches by the end of the day, according to FraminghamSource.
Despite schools across Massachusetts announcing closures for the day in anticipation of this storm, Framingham State remained open until an announcement at 3:07 p.m. informing the campus that the University would close at 4:30 p.m.
Although 5.5 inches is not a lot compared to other snow storms the MetroWest area has experienced in years past, the danger comes from the state of the roads as well as conditions on our campus.
Students were still expected to make it from class to class on a campus terrain comprised almost entirely of hills when the maintainers had not even been given the chance to finish clearing the walkways or laying down salt.
It’s not as if the tunnels underneath the campus are an option anymore.
Up until approximately 50 years ago, tunnels located beneath May, Crocker, Peirce, Horace Mann, and Hemenway halls were used by students to get to class, especially during times of inclement weather. However, access to these tunnels was restricted due to safety concerns.
The fact that we are on a hill poses a unique problem for the Facilities Department when it comes to snow removal on campus. We cannot hold off on its removal and we need to acknowledge it will take time.
How many Kiwibots need to be lodged in the snow before students, faculty, and staff are warranted a school closure?
The institution's closing came just in time for rush hour traffic after inches of snow had already fallen.
FraminghamSource reported that the “havoc” caused by last-minute early closures increased the number of cars on the road and inevitably led to “numerous” vehicular accidents.
This put all of our commuter students, who make up a large portion of our campus population, as well as all of our faculty and staff, at risk.
Some community members had to stay on campus longer in the hope the roads would be in better condition later on or the snow would lighten up enough for a safe commute.
Others may have children whose schools were closed, and because FSU had not, they were forced to miss or cancel their own classes as a result.
We understand this is the first snowstorm we have had in quite some time, but it's January in New England. This weather should not come as a surprise.
Weather is never truly predictable, but we are not new to this.
Had FSU called for a half day the night before or at least the morning of, less of our community would have been put at risk.
Even if the administration was not initially aware of the approaching storm, by midday, everyone knew what we were dealing with.
Because 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. is the free block on Mondays, the school could have made its announcement and those with 2:30 p.m. classes could have stayed home and those with classes finishing up from the morning could have gone home before traffic really picked up.
If there is not already a policy in place, one should be created to allow professors to switch to remote classes when there is questionable weather and the school is unsure whether it is going to close for the day.
This would keep commuters safe and eliminate many of the risks associated with keeping the campus open during inclement weather.
Framingham State needs to be more proactive about responding to weather concerns.
The safety of our campus community should be the number one priority.