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Cancellations and confusion accompany blizzard

February 2, 2011

Whether or not one believes in Punxsutawney Phil’s annual Ground Hog’s Day prognostications, the past few days have made it very clear that winter is still here. With blizzard conditions across the Midwest, and snowfall in at least 30 states, Monmouth College’s administrative staff followed the necessary steps to ensure student/faculty safety during the severe weather advisory.

The forecasts predicted anywhere from 8-18″ of snowfall with high winds and white out conditions, but the college kept students and faculty frequently notified about what to do in case of an emergency. Vice President of Student Life/Dean of Students, Jacquelyn Condon assured that safety is the college’s biggest concern.

“We don’t want students traveling,” said Condon. “We want to be able to feed everybody and make sure that everyone has a warm place to go. We also want to make sure the fire alarm system is working properly.”

Condon mentioned that the college generally does not cancel classes in these situations, but rather leaves that decision up to the individual professors. For students who commute to the college, attending class in these conditions can be especially difficult.

“It has always been my experience that professors are pretty reasonable,” said Condon. “I’ve never been contacted by a student who didn’t find a professor to be reasonable. We pride ourselves on being fair.”

However, the local radio station and newspaper reported that Monmouth College was closed for Wednesday. Students and faculty read that and accepted it as valid, despite no cancellations announced by the college administration.

“Given the confusion and the difficulty that many of you are, or will have arriving on campus and the expectation of many that classes are already cancelled, we will make that official,” said president Mauri Ditzler. “The Dean and the Chair of the Faculty Senate have confirmed this decision.”

At approximately 9 a.m. on Wednesday, text messages were sent out by the college informing students of the decision. However, for some students and faculty it was too late for they had already made their way to their regularly scheduled classes.

“I had just e-mailed my class that we would definitely meet and then walked a half mile through waist-high drifts with my arm in a sling to greet some very unhappy campers,” said professor Doug Rankin.

Although power was never lost during the snowstorm, the college was prepared for the worst and has a specific protocol to follow for various weather emergencies. Last summer the school purchased a generator so had the campus lost power, the Stockdale Center would have been open 24 hours for students to keep warm and get food. Resident Assistants would have also provided building keys to their residents in the event of a power outage.

Dean Condon, along with several other administrative staff members, including president Ditzler met frequently during the storm to check on the blizzard’s progress and to make updates to any safety notifications that needed to be sent out to the campus.


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