By: Adi Vella
UPEI has come under fire for its handling of its storm closure decision on January 23rd.
While PEI’s public school board had announced its decision to close schools three hours early and Holland College announced it would close at 12:30 pm, UPEI waited until 1:32 to make its decision to close immediately.
The decision was the target of criticism on social media.
Student Involved in Accident
MacKenzie Simms, a third-year student, was frustrated that the university did not decide to close earlier.
“I made the decision to leave my class and go home about 30 minutes before they closed the school,” she said, “and ended up in the ditch because I had to swerve to avoid a head on collision with an oncoming swerving car.”
“Yes, I could have chosen to go home sooner,” Simms added, “but my class didn’t get cancelled and I felt I should go since I was already on campus”.
UPEI Explains Decision
In a statement to The Cadre, UPEI explained that decisions to close, delay opening, or remain open are guided by the University Closure Policy, approved in 2016.
The statement said “the decision to close the University on January 23 was made at 1:32 pm after careful consideration of the factors listed in the University Closure Policy and reviewing updated information from several sources, including updated RCMP information on current conditions that had been issued to the media.”
The university said that while it does consult with Holland College on storm closure decisions, their course schedules did not align on the day of the storm closure, which prompted the university to conduct its own evaluation.
UPEI also noted that storm closure decisions might not suit the needs of individual students.
“We recognize that decisions to close or remain open might not suit individual circumstances,” the statement said. “Students, faculty, and staff do need to consider their own personal situation, keep well informed, and determine if it is safe to travel.”
SU President responds
Taya Nabuurs, interim President of the UPEISU, acknowledged that these situations can be difficult.
“I know that UPEI has been making efforts this year to review its storm closure policy and procedures to ensure that it is using best practices when making these decisions” she said.
“I know that certain situations can be tricky to call and therefore have been frustrating for students,” she added, “but I’m confident that UPEI always has students’ best interests and safety as top priority.”
Nabuurs also said that the UPEISU was consulted and involved in the storm closure policy review process.