Recent bad weather making life difficult for students, professors

By Brian Le

Virginia Wesleyan College has experienced five snow days in the span of two weeks. The recent snowfall has made it very difficult for students and faculty to get back into their normal routines.

At first, the snow days were seen as an extended winter break, but the consequences of those days off have quickly turned into burdens for students. Class time has been lost, deadlines for assignments have been delayed and exams have been pushed back, all as a result of the snow.

“I have enjoyed [the] time off from my classes, but I don’t want to get any further behind,” said sophomore Amanda Baxter.

It seems that the time off has been enough and that students are ready to get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, many professors have altered their syllabi in order to accommodate for lost time and material. Consequently, students have been scrambling to play catch up.

“My class schedules have really been crammed up by the snow days because deadlines have been pushed back from their original dates,” said freshmen Luke Wentling.

However, students aren’t the only ones who are struggling to get acclimated back into their normal routines. Professors are experiencing similar trouble trying to readjust their teaching schedules as well.

“Having a snow day once in a while is one of the great joys of life,” said Professor Elaine Dessouki. “But having five snow days in two weeks is really disruptive, because students tend to forget new material when they don’t work with it frequently.  So, we not only lost five class days, we also lost a good part of what we had learned before the snow fell.”

Given the circumstances, professors seem to be prepared and ready to assist any students that may need a little help readjusting to the flow of classes.

“I believe that my students recognize that this is an extraordinary situation and they are willing to work harder than usual over the next couple weeks in order to get back to a regular schedule,” said Dessouki. “It’s a partnership, and I think we are all committed to working together to get back on track before spring break.”

When the forecast predicts snow for the area, students are typically on standby until 5 p.m., waiting to receive an e-mail that announces that classes are cancelled, or delayed, for the next day.

In order to make a delay or cancellation, the college has a process in place before they make an announcement. 

“A committee made up of administrators all convene in a meeting or conference call and discuss whether or not to close the College,” said Vice President of Operations Bruce Vaughan.

“We pay attention to the weather forecast, we travel the roads to check the conditions and we watch how other local schools and colleges react as well,” said Vaughan.

The committee of seven administrators tries to look at every aspect that they possibly can with the priority of safety always in mind.

“We are predominately residential, but we too have to ensure the safety of our commuter population,” said Vaughan. “We also look at what local businesses are doing because we understand students may need to travel to work as well.”

All of these factors get taken into account before the ultimate decision can be made. The committee always asks themselves, “Do we feel collectively that it is safe to open campus?”

“It is subjective but, that is why we all provide input in order to make the best decision concerning the safety of the campus community,” said Vaughan.

Safety remains the main focus whenever the committee comes together.

“We know the hardship it has on students to play catch up, but the overriding factor is safety,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Dr. Timothy O’Rourke.

It seems that collaboratively, students and faculty will be able to overcome this hardship and get back on track fairly quickly.

“I have rearranged every syllabus to reassure students that we will spend adequate time on the remaining material,” said Dessouki. “Even in a normal semester we sometimes fall behind, and there are always a couple of makeup days built into every syllabus. We’ll be using these to cover what we missed.  So, I believe that we can cover almost all of the topics that were planned at a normal pace.”