University SNOW-VER Reacts

Luke O’Brien dissects the University’s response to the wintery weather.

A wintry form of Armageddon struck Southampton on Friday, if the University is to be believed. Exams were cancelled and campus put on lockdown. Was this completely necessary or a disproportional response?

As the first glimmer of snow touched down on Thursday, the University’s grandly-titled “Crisis Management Committee” leapt into action. Except it seems that they didn’t have much of a response planned. The weather forecast 10cm of snow to land between 7 and 10am on Friday. This presented a dilemma, for of course the authorities could not announce a closure on Thursday before the snow had actually fallen. The snowfall was unfortunately timed during morning rush hour and right on top of morning exams.

So the afternoon was cancelled. Students had spent all morning speculating, and surely this amount of stress couldn’t be conducive to exam grades in the afternoon? But it wasn’t just students who were outraged. Staff took to Twitter to bemoan the lack of communication and the fact that they were expected to trudge back through the snow in the afternoon.

The question remains, why were the University so overly-cautious in closing the campus? Back in 2010, it was closed for two days after heavy snowfall. The reason given the was that there wasn’t enough grit stockpiled to keep the paths clear on campus. One would have thought that the powers that be would have learned from this mistake by now.

Our closest university neighbours, Bournemouth and Portsmouth, didn’t have the same problems as we did. Bournemouth closed on Friday but managed to battle through and re-open all weekend. Over in Pompey, they managed to stay open until 3PM on Friday. What did they do that Southampton was seemingly unable to?

By the time Saturday rolled around, the council gritters had done their work and most major roads around Southampton were completely clear. Uni-link buses were running again, so why did the University stay closed? While revision can be done at home, there is no substitute for the quiet of the library or the resources that can only be found on campus. 23,000 students were denied access to what they had rightfully paid for. Forking out £9,000 per year then being told you can’t use your University facilities during exam time is outrageous and the University should be ashamed for not doing more to keep their doors open.

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