Photo by Kenneth Ryan/Collegian: Shears Technology is covered in snow on a chilly day when school was not cancelled

By Emily Branson / Staff writer

This winter has been full of snow and ice, leaving Hutchinson Community College students wondering whether or not classes should be cancelled more often.

RJ Stovall, a Halstead freshman, commutes almost 30 miles to classes five days a week. He also commutes for all home football and basketball games to play in the band.

“It takes me 30-45 minutes to get to HutchCC,” Stovall said. “When (the weather) is really bad, I choose to not go to classes. Life outweighs a degree to me.”

Although staying home from classes can help keep students safe, some may feel obligated to come to Hutchinson anyways, for fear of missing out on classes and homework.

“I feel a sense of obligation to come to classes when they are not cancelled,” Stovall said. “Algebra is hard to get caught up on when you’re behind.”

While it may be easier for those who live on campus or in the surrounding area to make it to classes, HutchCC has a large number of commuters that have struggled to make it safely and on time.

“I definitely have had to leave very early to get to HutchCC on time for class,” Stovall said. “It took me almost an hour recently when the weather was bad.”

Photo by KJ Ryan/Collegian

The ultimate decision to cancel class comes from HutchCC President Carter File, but other staff members may give input on his decision. For example, if HutchCC is not able to have clear and safe sidewalks for the students, classes are more likely to be cancelled.

“It is likely Dr. File will consult with President’s Council and others for additional input before a determination is made on whether to cancel classes,” said Denny Stoecklein, Director Of Marketing And Public Relations. “By keeping open communication with many people on campus, including Don Rose, Director of Grounds and Maintenance, Dr. File can make the best decision possible for the campus community.”

File takes this decision seriously, keeping in mind all students, not just those near campus.

“If it’s icy on the roads with snow on top, and we are unable to have people clear the roads and sidewalks, a snow day may occur,” File said in a 2018 interview with The Collegian.

Nothing can be guaranteed when the weather becomes questionable, as things may change after HutchCC makes their decision. This can leave students feeling uneasy about driving to class on the snow-covered roads. If the snow begins to accumulate without warning after a decision has been made, there is little that can be done.

Photo by Kenneth Ryan/Collegian

“We have to make the decision early enough to notify students, faculty and staff,” Stoecklein said. “We act on the best information available at the time. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect process.”

Safety for all students is a priority for HutchCC, but some students still feel like their well being is at risk when the college decides to not cancel school in questionable weather. Above all else, individual safety is always advised by the college and staff.

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