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TO: Jessica Walker

FROM: Harley Crites, Brianna Malloy, and Logan Wagner

DATE: 4 March 2019
SUBJECT: Proposal to Update WVU Class Cancellation Policy

During the colder months, it is no secret that West Virginia’s weather becomes unpredictable,
leaving the state susceptible to freezing temperatures, icy precipitation, and adverse road
conditions. Despite this, it comes as a surprise that West Virginia University has yet to adopt any
formal inclement weather protocol or procedures. As a result, students are faced with the
decision to either jeopardize their safety by braving the elements and going to class, or to instead
stay inside and collect unexcused absences from professors who have opted not to cancel class.
We are proposing that West Virginia University school officials adopt a more specific inclement
weather policy to ensure the safety of all students.

Definition of the Problem

Knowing West Virginia’s history with snow and other wintery mixes, it is imperative that the
school take precaution to respond proactively to the threats of hazardous weather conditions.
Some may recall just last year when Morgantown was impacted by heavy snowfall, which
ultimately led to closed roads, gridlocked traffic, and several car wrecks. On the evening of
January 16, 2018, both the University Police Department and MECCA 911 had confirmed
reports of 25 car accidents having occurred in the Morgantown area alone.

Even though keeping people off the roads and preventing car accidents is not completely
preventable, keeping students off the roads is much easier to do. If the university had canceled
classes on January 16, 2018, the number of car accidents may have been significantly lower due
to the fact that students would not have been trying to get home from classes after the snow had
already began to fall. This is a major problem that poses a significant threat, especially to those
students who live off-campus and have to commute. Additionally, it is problematic even for
those who live on campus and have access to buses and the PRT since they often have to wait
minutes in the freezing cold for either mode of transportation to show up.

Like so many other schools that often deal with the same weather-related issues, our proposal
seeks to revise our university’s current cancellation procedure. Presently, cancellation of classes
is left to the discretion of university officials; it is contingent upon their evaluation of the
roadways as the precipitation is happening, rather than before. Furthermore, it should also be
noted that a governor-issued, weather-induced state of emergency does not automatically result
in a campus shutdown. In the future, an ideal policy would notify students in advance, prior to
the start of classes, of any weather cancellations.
Research Plans
In order to protect West Virginia University students from accidents caused by inclement
weather conditions, we decided to gather information on the problem to try to find a proper
solution. Unfortunately, there have been many accidents caused by poorly-treated roads in
Morgantown. Our group wants to collect news articles from the internet that prove how
dangerous the roads in Morgantown can be when there are not enough employees to clear the
streets efficiently. Local news articles from reliable sources will be instrumental in helping our
group understand the severity of the car accidents caused by inclement weather.

The best way to ensure the safety of West Virginia University students in poor weather
conditions is to change the inclement weather policy that the university currently has in place.
The inclement weather policy needs to inform students that classes will be cancelled well in
advance of the roads becoming unsafe. Currently, our school does not have specific cancellation
times listed on the inclement weather policy. Our group plans to research how other schools
include times by which they must cancel their classes in their own inclement weather policies.

Ideally, we would like to model our new adverse weather policy after the policy of Saginaw
Valley State University in Michigan; the Saginaw policy requires the college to inform the
students of cancellation prior to 6:30 a.m. for day classes and 2:30 p.m. for evening classes. We
believe that if there were specific times by which the university had to cancel classes, many
accidents involving West Virginia University students could be prevented because students will
no longer need to risk their lives to get to class.

Also, we want to conduct interviews with our fellow students to see how they feel about the
current inclement weather policy. We want to ask if the current policy makes the students feel
safe. If the policy does not make them feel safe, our group wants to know what the students
would like to see the university do to improve the policy. While gathering facts online about the
consequences of poorly-treated roads is important, it is also very important to listen to the
personal accounts of West Virginia University students who are directly affected by inclement

As students of West Virginia University who care deeply about the safety of our fellow
classmates, our group feels as though we are qualified to revise the adverse weather cancellation
policy and propose an updated policy to prioritize students’ well-being.

Although we all have different majors and strengths as students, we are united in our agreement
that the inclement weather cancellation policy needs to change. Our group has experienced what
happens when our college does not cancel class before the roads get dangerous. We have been
stuck on campus for hours when our shuttle buses can no longer make their runs; we have had to
walk down icy, unsafe roads, falling in our attempt to get home. The members of our group have
had to brave the untreated, mountainous roads in vehicles, and we have almost been in cars
accidents as a result. It is not uncommon for the roads to be so horrible that our shuttles stop
running in the mornings and we have no way to get to campus at all.

Overall, our group has been negatively affected because West Virginia University’s adverse
weather cancellation policy is not specific enough to warrant class cancellations before the
weather and roads become dangerous. As students who care wholeheartedly about our fellow
classmates and the students who will come after us, we want to change the inclement weather
policy to ensure that West Virginia University students will be protected during poor weather.

Our proposal does not rely on monetary resources, so our timeline is not dependent upon
funding. Instead, we must account for the time it takes to amend the existing West Virginia
University’s inclement weather policy.

First, Harley will review other college inclement weather policies at schools that are in cities
with similar weather patterns to Morgantown’s own weather patterns. She will also look at
schools that deal with adverse weather conditions frequently and compare them to our
university’s existing policy. Afterward, she will share her findings, and our group will determine
the best clauses to add to West Virginia University’s policy. We will also determine what clauses
should be struck from our university’s policy. Finalizing our proposed policy should take no
more than a week.

After the amendment is finalized, we will need to gather support for it. The group will get
students’ opinions on the amended policy through surveys. The surveys will be anonymous.
They will be distributed in each group member’s respective classes throughout a designated
school week. If there is a positive response to the proposed new policy, we will move forward.

The next step is getting in contact with campus officials who can provide an outlet for our
proposal. Logan and Brianna will ask to whom we need to present our proposal. They will also
continue through the necessary channels until they get a time, date, and place to officially present
the proposal. The exact time this process will take is unknown, but it can be estimated to take
about a week.

Finally, we will present our proposal to West Virginia University campus officials. We will keep
in touch with them in order to expedite their decision. Our project to amend the inclement
weather policy at West Virginia University should take approximately one month.

It is clear that West Virginia University’s existing policy for inclement weather conditions is not
working adequately for the safety of staff and students. We must update this outdated,
insufficient policy by modeling it after policies of other colleges around the U.S. that have
similar adverse weather conditions to the ones at our university. We must make sure that students
feel safer with the new, proposed policy. To ensure comfort and safety, the new policy will not
force students to brave dangerous weather conditions because the university refuses to cancel
classes when the weather is at its worst.

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