Looking back at last winter's class cancellations after first snowfall hits campus

The first snow of the season hits WMU on Halloween.

The first snow of the season hit Kalamazoo midday on Halloween. 

Last winter, WMU closed numerous times due to the season’s intense storms, an unusual move for the university which historically has been resistant to cancelling class. As winter approaches once again, WMU recently released a reminder of the university’s weather policies.  

The reminder begins by establishing that closures, such as those seen last winter, are a rarity.

“WMU rarely closes or delays classes, so always assume campus is open,” the reminder reads. “In the absence of notification via one of the methods listed below, all normal operations will continue as scheduled.”

The listed notification methods includes the university’s homepage, the WMU alert system and announcements through local radio and television stations. 

Last winter was particularly harsh as Southwest Michigan was hit by a series of storms. Early in the winter, students were frustrated with the university’s hesitancy to cancel class. The weather made travel across campus difficult, especially for students with limited mobility. An employee for the Herald fell and slid down the hill from the campus flag poles to the Goldsworth Valley Pond. A bus crashed in the roundabout by Howard Street.

In light of students’ frustrations, closings became more frequent as the storms worsened. Speaking on the university’s closure policy, Vice President Jan Van Der Kley said that the university bases its decision on a variety of factors.

“We look to see if the plowers would have sufficient time to clear a path for students,” Van Der Klay said. “If the windchill reaches -35 we will close absolutely.”

According to some reports, weather this winter could be as bad, if not worse than last year. The Western Herald will be keeping readers up to date on any closures, both through our website and Twitter.

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