Many students might have been a little miffed at Georgia State for their shaky response to inclement weather at the beginning of the week of Feb. 15, and rightfully so. The response was less than favorable to the many who were glued to their computers and phones awaiting a verdict on the possible cancellations of school.
And what was the verdict? There were no real cancellations, only the meagre paring off of classes before 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Commuters from all over the metropolitan area and beyond were still required to attend, despite hazardous conditions. In our opinion, this could have been handled somewhat better. How?
Georgia State could have announced their decisions sooner. The 5 a.m. decisions to keep campus open came inconveniently late (or early depending on which way you look at it) and threw many people off schedule, even though the alerts were actually made a few hours before their self-imposed 5 a.m. deadline.
This was not so much an issue of timing as it was preparation. Those who have lived in Atlanta for more than a year remember last year’s colloquially-named Snowpocalypse, the dramatic snowstorm that left thousands of people stranded on the roads in their cars.
This is likely why there was so much of a sense of foreboding when the weather forecasters first declared that there was a chance of snow. People were having flashbacks to last year and were eager for a faster decision.
Even so, the university could have been a little more empathetic to the large number of students and teachers who needed to commute to school. People north of the perimeter faced freezing temperatures, power outages and black ice. This is where the real issue was.
Commuters are the majority of our demographics, and they took the biggest hit. Some students travel from Georgia cities such as Athens, Dalton, Lawrenceville, etc. which are anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half commute. Being out on the roads for that long just increased their chances of getting hurt.
Recently it seems Georgia State is moving towards a vision of being a more “traditional” campus with more of its students living on campus. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad vision, we should be careful with how we apply our missions. When an ideal gets in the way of the reality of a situation, it can distract from more practical considerations.
Those in charge of notifying the student and faculty were walking a tightrope. If they aired too far on the side of caution, they ran the risk of slowing the university’s daily operations and causing unnecessary setbacks; if they were too hasty in declaring campuses open, they ran the risk of putting people in danger.
Georgia State did not consider the commuter population as well as they might have and it caused commuters inconvenience. We hope that, in the future, students and Georgia State can better communicate and coordinate to ensure the safety and functioning of all.