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When snow falls, UMBC needs to focus on the safety of students

When I was growing up, there was nothing better than a snow day. School would close and I could spend the day lounging about drinking hot chocolate. Snowy days brought excitement and joy. Now, a snowy day means trudging through ice in freezing temperatures to attend a lecture.

Last week, most of the east coast bundled up as the polar vortex moved across the region, and UMBC was no exception. Despite snowfall on Friday morning and well into the afternoon, campus remained open, leaving students and faculty to attend their usual classes.

Going to class in the snow is more than an inconvenience; it can also be dangerous. Emily Hoang, a freshman biology major who commutes to the university, got into an accident Friday evening on her way home from class. Hoang said, “If UMBC closed earlier, I would have been able to avoid the accident or the slip from the snow.”

According to US News, 65 percent of the student population at UMBC lives off campus. As such, the university should be more aware of how their choices impact this population. Since campus was kept open, commuters were forced to choose between missing class or driving in dangerous conditions. Hoang continues, “There’s a lot of commuters in this school, and [UMBC] did not take into account what’s going to happen if they don’t close the school.”

Even students still on campus had difficulty. Soon after the snow started on Friday morning, the ground was covered due to the low temperatures throughout the week. By noon the snow was falling heavily enough to cover the walkways. Just walking between classes became treacherous since only academic row was salted.

The less prominent areas of campus, such as the path between the Information and Technology building and the Fine Arts building, as well as the steps, were especially slippery, which posed difficulty for students and faculty alike. Halle Welch, a sophomore chemical engineering major said that not only did she slip on the steps, but she heard many other people did as well.

Snow continued to accumulate into the late afternoon before snow plows cleared the snow and salt was dispersed. However, this was a futile effort according to meteorologist Justin Berk of Just In Weather, who explained that salt is ineffective at temperatures as low as the ones we experienced on Friday.

When the snow finally did cease to fall in the late evening, campus was covered in irregular patches of ice, snow and salt. Several days later the ice and snow melted, but the salt remains throughout campus, which I suppose is a good thing. Maybe the salt residue from last week will make campus a little safer the next time it snows. Next time, UMBC should really consider if class is more important than the safety of their students, faculty and staff.