After the flurry of snow days Union enjoyed last week, some may be wondering exactly who decides when it’s too dangerous to trudge to class, and how they reach that conclusion.
Careful planning and consideration goes into making these decisions. Information is gathered from the National Weather Service in Memphis, Tennessee, safety and security, satellite campus administrators, residence life staff and many others.
After consulting the university president and members of the executive council, C. Ben Mitchell, provost, and Bryan Carrier, dean of students, make the final decision regarding campus closings.
According to the official campus closing policy, there are three different tiers of campus closures.
Tier I: One or more Union University campus opens on a delayed schedule. Classes and offices begin at a specific, announced time. Dining services open one hour prior to the start of classes.
Tier II: One or more Union University campus is closed for the day.
Dining services, wellness services and library staff may offer a reduced amount of hours and services due to limited staffing. All relevant information is communicated via the Union website.
Campus events can continue or be cancelled based on the discretion of the faculty or staff member responsible for them.
Tier III: One or more Union University campus is closed for the day. All classes and offices are closed, and all campus events are canceled.
“The safety and security team is still on campus 24/7 to assist students, staff and visitors, even when the university is closed due to hazardous weather conditions,” said David Stivers, coordinator for safety and security.
Carrier said he and Mitchell make the closure decisions for all campuses after carefully considering all local and regional weather conditions. He said they utilize every resource they have available to them including the local weather and mobile weather applications, but that they rely heavily on the National Weather Service in Memphis.
“We are governed by the same accrediting agency as any accredited state school, which is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools,” Carrier said.
This means the university does not have to make up cancelled classes due to inclement weather.
“There are ways colleges can help accommodate for (cancelled school days), specifically through MoodleRooms and other forms of technology,” Carrier said.
Closing information is communicated using the Union website, social media accounts, uualert text messages and the local news. All staff, faculty and students receive an email from Carrier as well.
“My name is associated with cancellation decisions, for better or for worse,” Carrier said.