Last week, after blizzard-like conditions tore through Tuesday night, temperatures across Northeastern Wisconsin plummeted far below zero. The conditions combined such that high winds created a wind chill of -44 degrees, meaning danger of frostbite within 10 minutes of exposure (source: www.wdaz.com).However, despite the fact that these conditions caused schools in Appleton and surrounding areas to close, Lawrence students, staff and faculty forged ahead. This kind of heartiness and devotion is respectable, but in the case of last week’s weather, it was actually dangerous.
There are certainly several downsides to closing school. We have limited time in a term, and thus missing one day of classes can be really trying. The decision to cancel classes should by no means be taken lightly.
When the temperature falls as it did last week, there is usually nothing prohibiting traffic, thus professors are able to get to campus. Furthermore, students do not have far to go to get to where they need to be.
However, there is an important distinction between what one is able to do and what one should do.
Many students at Lawrence are simply not used to the kind of weather we experience in January, and many others either ignore or are not aware of the dangers posed.
We at *The Lawrentian* feel that the university should be more responsive to weather alerts and to what surrounding schools are up to in order to better judge whether school should be in session.
The university might also consider warning students about drastically cold temperatures. If classes are not going to be canceled, students need to be more aware of the conditions. Many of us probably pay close attention to the weather — especially when it changes as often as it does in this region of the country — but some students may not pay attention, especially since we do not watch local television or listen to local radio much. A simple email warning to students reminding them to be sure to bundle up on the way to class might be a good idea.
It is also especially important to warn those students who are not used to the weather that a -40 degree wind chill is dangerous and that covering as much skin as possible is essential to safety and health, no matter how short the walk is. Lawrentians should be responsible adults, but might need a reminder of what to do in extreme weather.
Students with cars should also be aware of the danger to your car in this weather. If you can, plan to park in the ramp (it costs $1, if you don’t have the free pass available from physical plant). Before driving, let the engine run for 10 or more minutes without the heat on so that any warmth produced goes towards warming the engine. Yes, you will be cold, but a properly warmed engine ensures that you won’t be spending all your coffee cash on car repair.
The university administration must take into account our relative obliviousness to the outside world sometimes. Barring canceling classes, a simple warning about the dangers of frostbite would be beneficial to all. Yet, at the same time, students must become more aware of the weather, especially when it might be dangerous.