USF needlessly complicates hurricane crisis

After two hurricanes this semester and one over the summer, USF should have had dealing with another hurricane the size of Jeanne down pat. It doesn’t.

When Hurricane Frances hit, students and faculty voiced displeasure about how the decision-making process for a possible closure of USF was handled. It took far too long for the decision to be made, and once it was official, students didn’t have means to quickly find out as the Web site was badly designed, the telephone hot-line useless and information had not been given to local media.

Then Hurricane Ivan made its way across the state and USF implemented many changes, making it much easier for students to stay informed. The Web site displayed all essential information in an easily discernable way right on the front page. One more click and students reached detailed information. More importantly, the decision was made much earlier, which gave the local media enough time to spread the word.

So why not keep these changes in place?

For some inexplicable reason, USF reverted most changes rather than sticking with a tried and true method.

The decision to keep USF open was not made until around 6 p.m. Sunday. Furthermore, the Web site had several confusing links which led to different pages on the same site, all essentially giving the same information: “Check back later, we haven’t made up our mind yet.” Once a notice appeared on the main site, it was overlooked by many as it was in a different location and not as clearly marked as it had been after Ivan.

Worst of all, while waiting until late Sunday to make the decision, the university apparently did not check the campus thoroughly enough to realize storm damages were present.

The university also did not consider that many students, not to mention professors, would have trouble coming to class due to the damages incurred during the storm.

What ensued Monday was a circus-like situation of students running around campus, not sure if the class they were heading for was actually going to take place. A large number of classes were indeed “unofficially” cancelled. It would have been better to simply close classes in order to avoid all the confusion.

A decision-making process such as this is clearly not acceptable. Since past efforts have worked much better, students and faculty had every right to expect more.