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USF wise to cancel first day classes

Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 00:08

Though many stayed dry and enjoyed Hurricane Day festivities with classes canceled on what would have been the first day of the semester, USF’s Emergency Management Team made the right decision in closing all campuses Monday.

Aside from the fact that Hillsborough County declared a state of emergency and the potential dangers that could come to students moving about campus with high wind speeds up to 60 mph, USF had other constituencies to worry about.

With all public schools in the surrounding counties canceled, students, faculty and staff with young children could have found themselves stranded without childcare.

But a bigger issue to worry about was commuter students, some who drive in from other counties.

While USF has striven to shake the notion that it is a commuter campus, almost half of its student population still commutes. Though the storm may have had minimal effect in Tampa, Gov. Rick Scott urged the state to stay off bridges connecting Tampa to many of the cities USF students commute from.

Furthermore, with the Republican National Convention taking place in downtown, emergency resources were stretched and scarce to begin with. In the case Isaac did make landfall, or even cause significant wind damage, USF would be left with the butt of the city’s already sparse resources.

USF, as one of the Bay area’s largest employers, is responsible both for the education and safety of its students as well as the safety of its employees and staff. But sometimes wellbeing incorporates more than safety, and a University’s overall role is to look out for the wellbeing of those it is responsible for.

While USF’s Emergency Management Team may have been prudent to make the call later in the day, when they sent out an alert at 6:15 p.m., demonstrating their commitment to keeping the academic year intact if indeed the weather was bearable, their decision could have been made earlier in the day once they became aware all public schools were closed and warnings were issued for surrounding counties.

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