Thursday, December 15, 2005


I grew up in an area where it snowed far too much. It was great when I was 8 or 9 – I can remember hiding in foxholes in the snow in the front yard – but it got a little annoying as I reached driving age. College was in a different state, also quite snowy.

My adopted home state isn’t quite as severe, but it still gets walloped from time to time. One grad school winter, when I lived in an apartment where the only parking was on the street, we had 15 snowstorms. For each one, we had to move our cars under threat of being towed. After about a dozen storms, I figured out that to tow my car, they’d have to dig it out first. I decided to let them. Liars!

As a cc, we don’t have dorms, so all of our students commute. Faculty and staff also live hither and yon. Our President is blessedly enlightened about prioritizing life and limb over classes, so we have our share of snow days. During the semester, snow days are a blessing.

But then finals hit.

What do you do if you have a snow day (or worse, two) during finals week?

On the one hand, you don’t really want thousands of 19-year-old drivers hurriedly negotiating icy hills while stressing about exams. On the other, you can really throw a monkey wrench into semester reporting, fairness, etc. This year, finals week is right before the Christmas break, so we really can’t add days. Friday the 23rd is the makeup day, which could probably absorb some (but not all) of the fallout of one snow day. Two snow days, and we’re completely SOL.

Can we really reschedule exams into January? Is it reasonable to move exams online, if the courses themselves weren’t online? Is it fair to ask faculty to calculate grades without finals? Is it fair to give some classes (but not all) extra weeks to study?

“Let’s hope it doesn’t snow” doesn’t strike me as a policy.

What does your school do?