CSU calls snow day too late for some students

Hell hath no fury like a CSU student who comes to campus in a snowstorm just to have classes cancelled.

Judgement was quick and harsh on social media platforms Wednesday as CSU initially posted around 6:30 a.m. that the campus would be on a normal schedule, then did an about face and closed the university at noon.

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In a slew of over 130 comments on Colorado State University’s Facebook page a typical one read:

“You are way to late. People are already hurt. This decision should have been made last night. I am disappointed in CSU, Tony Frank, and the Public ‘Safety’ team.”

As snow continued to fall and roads became coated in an increasingly thick layer of ice, the CSU Public Safety Team made the decision to close campus at approximately noon Wednesday.

County offices closed at noon also, with police and media reports describing most of northern Colorado as being coated in ice and imploring residents to avoid driving unless absolutely necessary.

“If you have to be out, please drive carefully,” wrote Sheriff Justin Smith on his Facebook page. “If you don’t have to be out, it’s a good day to stay close to home.”

When the university shut down, students began leaving campus en masse, trying to head toward the comforts of home to get caught up on homework, sleep and perhaps most importantly, avoiding the tests and classes that had been cancelled.

“I’m excited, I don’t have to take my biology test,” said freshman nutrition major Jackie Nelson as she finished lunch in the basement of the LSC.

Some students hoping for a quick and painless ride back home found themselves stuck on campus for longer than they would have liked.

A line of cars leaving the parking lot west of the Morgan Library was backed up to from the entry all the way back to the library, with many cars stuck idling as they waited for the traffic jam to dissipate.

The sudden cancellation of classes left many students wondering why they weren’t called off entirely before the day even started.

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Tommy Taylor, a junior soil and crop science junior, said he left his house at 7 a.m. and drove three miles to campus through icy and slippery road conditions. After taking his first class, he had an hour break where he drove back home.

Along the way, he said he stopped and helped three different vehicles that were stuck on the road.

“I’m sure they look into every option and regulation when they make these decisions. I’m glad they made the decision to close school –– I just wish they had done it sooner,” Taylor said.

Fort Collins police sergeant Mike West said between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday, Fort Collins police had responded to 16 traffic accidents.

“There were no serious injuries and things seem to be slowing down a bit,” West said, later adding that there wasn’t enough information to suggest that CSU’s decision to close campus at noon caused the decrease in accidents.

He said that 16 is only a few more than a normal day and significantly less than the 25 his officers responded to Monday. Although the police department had gone out on “several” traffic calls where citizens spun out and were stuck in their vehicle, if there’s no damage they aren’t filed as an accident.

Likewise, Poudre Valley Fire Captain Holger Durre said his department responded to nine motor vehicle accidents involving injuries since Sunday, a number he described as average.

“Usually in the early winter season, fall and winter, we see a bigger increase in calls in snow related emergencies,” Durre said. “I’d have to look at the system statistics but it hasn’t been to the point where we’ve had to change our deployment strategies or anything.”

The last three days have seen massive speculation on whether school would be closed. The CSU Public Safety Team created a webpage titled “Snow Day Decision Process: What does it take to get a snow day around here?”

It states that many factors, including road reports from the city and county, are considered. The final decision rests on the shoulders of CSU President Tony Frank.

Ability Club President Kevin Flemming said a van operated by CSU’s Resources for Disabled Students office was in “full running mode” today shuttling students registered with the service around campus in case they had a physical disability.

“It’s a difficult balance for the administration to have to do,” Flemming said of their recent decisions to close campus. “If you were to close campus every time it was impossible for someone with a physical disability to come to campus, you would get nothing done… That being said, we do need to be conscious and provide as much accessibility as we can.”

Contrary to many rumors saying otherwise, there is no correlation between state funding and the universities decision to remain open through the morning.

No matter what, there are a high number of variables that make the decision to close campus a difficult one, said CSU spokesman Mike Hooker.

“Either way you decide, you don’t know for sure whether it’s the right decision because you don’t know for sure what the weather is going to do,” Hooker said.

Senior Reporter Austin Briggs can be reached at news@collegian.com.