by Marco Ovies, Features Editor
On November 15, the Lower Mainland was hit by the worst storm it has seen all year. Numerous roads were closed, streets (and entire towns) were flooded, and there was debris everywhere. Yet what did I have to do the morning of this storm? That’s right, I had to drive to school. Considering how dangerous the conditions were to travel in, both SFU and professors should have recognized it might have been better to cancel class for the day.
I write all this after nearly hydroplaning on my way home from school, a journey I really shouldn’t have taken. However, because my professor refuses to record lectures or offer an alternative to accommodate those who are unable to attend in person, I was forced to risk my life for my academic success. In hindsight, it really wasn’t worth the danger I put myself in. But I shouldn’t have to choose between my own safety and attending school.
SFU is a commuter school, and they should recognize a lot of their students are coming from places outside of Burnaby. SFU spans three campuses and one semester I had to commute from the Burnaby to Surrey campus for different lectures. With SFU so spread out, it’s irrational to assume the majority of the student body lives on campus and would have no problem attending a lecture during a severe weather event.
This is not a new problem for SFU either. Their snow day protocols have come under much criticism for giving students very little notice before cancelling class. This, quite often, does not come until TransLink has suspended bus services up the mountain, leaving students stranded on campus before they even know they need to leave.
I’ve been on a bus that couldn’t take me down the mountain because it was raining too much. When the next bus came to pick us up, it also couldn’t take us down the mountain and I was stranded until the rain started to slow down. It added at least an extra two hours to my commute home, and this weather was nothing compared to the weather we saw on November 15. Students may not be dressed appropriately to stand outside for hours for another bus to pick them up, or having to trek down in the snow. If buses are struggling in extreme weather, and a majority of students use the bus to get to class, then maybe it’s a sign to cancel class. For the storm on November 15, I passed by two buses that were pulled over to the side of the road with their hazard lights on. I can’t imagine how many more buses were delayed or forced to suspend services until the rain subsided.
SFU should be pre-emptively cancelling class in the case of extreme weather. It was no secret this storm was coming, and flooding was already happening early in the morning. By not doing so, they put students in direct danger for the sake of their education. No student should have to choose between their safety and a grade.