The Fox Valley area was hit by a severe storm Sunday night, and remained under a Tornado Warning for much of the evening. The National Weather Service has since confirmed that four tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin on Sunday, two on the south side of Kaukauna.
When the tornado sirens started going off, the university closed the library, the Café and Kate’s Corner Store. While this shut-down might have frustrated a few students, we at The Lawrentian commend this quick response. However Aside from the campus center and the library, the university’s response was inconsistent. Some residence halls took students to the basement for shelter, while the majority of residence halls did not notify students of the tornado warning or require students to proceed to basements.
Additionally, to our dismay, many students ventured into the storm to “enjoy” the weather. While we do admit the rapid lightning was fun to watch from inside, going outside while Appleton is under a tornado warning poses an unnecessary threat to a student’s safety.
We recognize students’ rights as adults capable of making their own decisions, but we do suggest that the university makes a larger effort to inform students of a severe storm approaching campus. The university does have an emergency response system that includes student notification via text message. This system could be used to inform students about severe weather and tornado watches on campus and also to inform students in basements when the watch has expired. We also suggest that all RLAs notify the residents on their floor in the case of a tornado warning.
Last Spring Term a tornado did touch down alarmingly close to campus — about seven miles away, and we are likely to see more severe weather before the end of term. As the week of April 11-15 has been deemed Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin, we should take this opportunity to focus on our campus’s response to tornadoes and severe weather.