By Merissa Anderson
On Thursday, Hutchinson Community College maintained its previously scheduled class periods despite the cancellation of the Career Connections Job Fair and other nearby school districts due to ice on roadways.
“It’s not a decision I take lightly,” HutchCC president Carter File said. “We never want anyone to travel if they don’t feel safe. We have a lot of students, and the bulk of our enrollment is within a few miles of campus. What I weighed is whether we leave the college open for the majority, or call it off for the minority of students who may have to travel a distance.”
By keeping open communication with many people on campus including Don Rose, Director of Grounds and Maintenance, Brett Bright, Vice President of Student Services, and Julie Blanton, Vice President of Finance and Operations, File can make the best decision possible for the campus community.
“It was slick, but if you know how to drive and drive a reasonable speed in town then I didn’t think it was bad,” File said. “It was worse on Tuesday and we didn’t call school off then.”
Despite the efforts that File and others go through to make what they believe to be the best choice for the college, not all students were happy with the decision.
The HutchCC Facebook page became a breeding ground for many comments of differing opinions about whether or not to cancel classes.
Casey Freeman, a nursing student, was upset that the school decided to cancel the career fair as opposed to classes.
“The job fair being cancelled over school is kind of horse s— to me,” Freeman said. “So they value the safety of vendors over the safety of student and faculty? I just feel that they should’ve put the safety of students and faculty first.”
In the nursing program, attendance is highly valued due to the limited amount of class time.
“I just don’t think it’s fair to put (attendance) back on us,” Freeman said. “The nursing program has to be strict to keep up with accreditation, so I totally get it, but I do think that there should be exceptions when safety is at stake.”
In regards to student attendance, the HutchCC Facebook page replied to Erin Hysong, who expressed concern about commuting from Wichita on the ice.
“If classes are held, we encourage you to use your best judgment in determining what’s best for you,” HutchCC Facebook said.
Hysong, who had a microbiology exam, was forced to consider the dangerous road conditions, compared to the cost of missing a vital test.
“I think their usage of ‘best judgment’ allows them to direct all the responsibility for choosing to commute on the the student,” Hysong said.
Despite these arguments voiced by many students on the HutchCC Facebook page, there was one man who wasn’t afraid to voice his more unique opinion.
“Suck it up,” he said. “Leave early drive safe. Life and weather does not stop.”
Denny Stoecklein, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, encourages people to investigate Facebook comments further than the comment itself.
“A lot of the comments were about local schools being closed, but they were already closed for parent-teacher conferences,” Stoecklein said. “We try not to post things until we know something more definitive we want to be careful about (what we post).”
Student opinions and Facebook comments are always noted by HutchCC and will be taken into consideration for the future.
“If you don’t feel safe, whether you’re a faculty member, staff member, or student, don’t travel,” File said. “That’s the No. 1 thing. Look out for your own safety. We decided to go ahead and hold class because we felt that, for the majority of people getting here, the roads were passable.”
[Office1]Let’s call it by its official name.
[Office2]HutchCC president Carter File.