This past weekend, the vast majority of schools across the Metro Atlanta area closed in response to the oncoming cold weather front that froze much of the area.
While some campuses were closed in their entirety Friday, a few, such as Georgia Tech, chose to open at later hours of the day to help ensure the safety of its community. One of the lone exceptions to this response was Georgia State, which instead kept campus open for regular business hours.
Fortunately, this weather snafu occurred before school opened for Spring Semester, not after. Still, Georgia State’s decision to stay open when other nearby campuses closed, or at least amended their operating hours, is baffling, though not surprising by any means.
In the four and a half years I have been a student at Georgia State, I can honestly only remember our campus legitimately cancelling classes campus-wide for one weather-related problem: the floods that swept the Metro Atlanta area last fall. Outside of that, regardless of the reaction of other campuses in close proximity to Georgia State, our university has failed to close campus.
If anything, one would expect Georgia State to be more likely to close than it does. In spite of efforts by administrators to turn our campus into a more traditional atmosphere, Georgia State is still by-and-large a commuter school – one that operates from the early hours of the morning into the late hours of the night.
Our commuter school status also means that a fairly large percentage of our student population, not to mention faculty and staff members, live outside of Atlanta well into the Metro Atlanta area. With a student body total alone hovering around 30,000 at this point in time, and with only approximately 3,000 actually living on campus, we have a disproportionate number of students who have to travel to our campus.
In some cases, professors can (and do) cancel classes due to weather concerns. Still, if a professor elects not to cancel a class, an absence in theory could be held against a student for something out of his or her control.
When campus closed last fall due to the oncoming floods, it felt unreal – Georgia State was actually doing something to benefit the large number of students who live outside of the immediate campus area. Then again, with the number of roads washed out and casualties that came from people driving in their vehicles at the wrong spots, it was simply the most logical thing to do at the same time.
Last Friday, there were numerous accidents, including a 27-vehicle collision near Hartsfield-Jackson. Meanwhile, Georgia State was still open, bright and early. And while students may not have been in class, staff members were coming back to work that day, and students were preparing for classes that started Monday.
In the future, I would urge the administration of our university to follow the example of other nearby institutions in shutting down our campus when serious weather disasters strike. It is the responsible thing for Georgia State University to do.