Written by: Gene Cole, Opinions Editor
I’ve been trapped on top of Burnaby campus during snow cancellations on two separate occasions. Both times, I’d woken up nonsensically early to beat the transit crowds and weather in case class was on, because I felt behind in the class and needed every lecture. After the class was cancelled part way through the day, I would inevitably see the horrendous crowd at the upper bus loop before deciding to walk down the mountain slowly and carefully, then waiting several hours for a shorter bus ride back home.
Was it painful? Absolutely, but I braved the weather because I knew from the moment I left the house that I could walk down the mountain if absolutely necessary. This was something I did out of my own necessity with a lot of caution and consideration, and no student should reasonably be expected to do something that dangerous when they attend a lecture. Many of the other students at the upper bus loop those days looked like they’d powered through because the the campus was open, as if they had no choice.
I’d urge every student to make sure you aren’t putting yourself at risk if you don’t have to.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be looking out for TransLink’s online updates, SFU’s social media posts, or even your SFU Mail to check if your professor’s are preemptively cancelling things. Those are important things to know. But all they really tell you is whether or not you’ll miss something, and won’t always be accurate about just how bad your journey might be. A lot of the university experience is planning for your own personal productivity, as well as your own safety, and nobody else is able to dictate what you should do in your position.
Much of the time, this does mean staying at home. But obviously there’s more to skipping a class than just not showing up. This could mean asking your peers or TA what you might have missed, doing extra reading, or dedicating time at home to your assignments to make up for missing attendance marks.
Skipping does not inherently mean you’ve lost a percentage of your tuition or education, it just means you’re reorganizing it. If you can’t get up the mountain, you should never hesitate to make a new plan.
After all, if you do have to force your way up the mountain for some unfair reason — perhaps because of an exam or assignment that the professor hasn’t delayed — there’s just as much planning you must do to ensure your safety. Starting your journey earlier, dressing warm, packing food and water, and even just charging your phone are things you’ll have to do to make sure you’re minimizing the risks. If you have the time and ability to do these things, or even to walk down the mountain if needed, that’s great, but obviously not everyone can.
Nobody can reasonably expect you to risk your time and safety if you don’t feel comfortable or confident. You just need to do what’s best and safest for you, and as a post-secondary student, you’ve got the power to make up for any lost time. If you think that there’s a factor stopping you from getting up that mountain safely, never push yourself unless you have to. Just be careful, and do whatever you have to do.