At exactly 4:14 a.m. on December 3, 2019, UMass Boston sent out an alert that all classes were canceled. UMass Boston sent out the notification later on compared to other announcements such as the cancellation of all Boston Public Schools. The Boston Public School system announced a cancellation at 8:21 p.m. on December 2. Many students were frustrated and Mass Media reached out to several students for comments regarding their displeasure in the late cancellation.
One student commented that, “I work at 7 a.m. for Campus Center and I live pretty far away, my daily commute with bus and train then to the shuttle bus is approximately 1.5 hours long. With snow and how unpredictable the MBTA is, I had to wake up earlier than normal, at 4 a.m., just to make sure I wasn’t late. As I was about to head out I receive [sic] the text at 4:16 a.m., a bit frustrated with the fact that they couldn’t have sent out this information earlier.”
Ivan Rodriguez Jr. is a senior at UMass Boston. Commuting from Lynn, his commute relies heavily on public transportation to get him to school everyday. “For a school that has a majority of commuter [sic], their late decisions displays both ignorance and lack of care towards the safety of their students.” His displeasure is echoed in the rest of his statement as he is also employed by Campus Center. He continues to display his displeasure in the tone of two emails sent to the UMass Boston hours before the eventual cancellation notice. “The closing policy email included a rather passive aggressive statement, 'However, severe weather affecting only a limited number of commuters generally will not result in a campus closing.' " He concludes by assessing and inferring the administration's new priorities as the dorming students take up mounting importance in his eyes. “It seems that these decisions are made even later due to the dorms. It shows where the school's priorities are and one of them is not the safety of their students."
Another student, an EMT, works many of the hours that he is not in school. As he manages a tight schedule, announcements that influence his commute and schedule must be made in advance. “It’s ridiculous that a school like UMass Boston waits till 4 in the morning to contact its students to cancel school. This is because UMass Boston is a commuter school, the majority of the students commute, a large percentage of these are also working students. The university waiting till 4 in the morning prevented me from having the ability to pick up a shift and make more money to pay for the overpriced amenities like $9 a day parking at a commuter school.”
Class of 2022 student, Meaghan Grant, has to wake up at 3 a.m. to commute to the university. She states, “I have an 8 a.m. class and commute from New Bedford so I have to leave my house every morning at 4:30 a.m. to catch a bus. By the time they decided to announce it was a snow day, it was only 15 minutes before I had to leave my house.”
Mass Media reached out the university administration for a statement regarding why the decision was made at 4 a.m., and this is what they had to say, “There are times when the forecast is such that a decision can be made the night before, but other times there is enough uncertainty that the decision needs to be made in the early morning, after overnight conditions are able to be evaluated. With this week’s storm, the forecast was continually changing on Monday. It only rained in some southern areas during the day, while northern and western areas got only snow and then finally everything changed to snow over much of the area where our campus community lives later in the evening. Any early morning decision to close will be done prior to 5 am, so that members of the campus community can be informed prior to beginning a commute to campus.”
Any students with more concern should contact the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, Kathleen Kirleis at Kathleen.Kirleis@umb.edu.