There is no getting around this basic fact of Thursday’s events: MU royally screwed up its handling of the large winter storm by refusing to close until shortly before noon. You may be of the opinion that the university should have cancelled classes earlier or that the storm was not truly bad enough to warrant a cancellation. But if there is one thing we should all agree on, it’s that by canceling halfway through the day, when students were still trying to drive to class and snowplows were out in full-force, the university became responsible for extremely dangerous and unnecessary traffic-jam conditions around the city of Columbia.
The hurried exodus of students, faculty and staff after the early-afternoon cancellation exacerbated the already poor driving conditions, causing traffic to grind to a halt and force many people to take several hours to get home. Cars and buses got stuck in the snow, further backing up traffic, and apparently some emergency workers were even forced to travel on foot to reach stranded and injured citizens. Because the university grossly overestimated its own preparedness, as well as the preparedness of city snow-clearing operations, the entire city became a mess. We hope university officials both apologize for Thursday’s situation and take notes for the next time inclement weather comes to town.
However, in the face of the university’s poor decision, we were heartened by the strong and selfless response of many members of the MU community. We saw a culture of helpfulness and altruism on Thursday — a culture that is not always readily apparent. Residential Life student staff took up shovels to clear paths for residents and some adult staff even spent the night on campus in order to ensure they could do their jobs and help students. All over Columbia, groups of people — strangers, fraternity brothers, friends — got out in the snow to help push stuck cars out of the snow, not because they felt compelled to, but because they wanted to. Missouri Students Association President Nick Droege created an informal team to assist stranded Columbians and got the word out via Twitter. University employees spent all night working to make sure utilities kept running so that we could have power and Internet throughout the storm. The Student Center stayed open all night, and leaders of the Women’s Center and Multicultural Center left their doors unlocked so students could camp out in the spaces they call their “second home.”
These stories can be found all over campus and the city as a whole, and it’s truly inspiring to see the good that can come out of such a difficult day. Although we certainly wouldn’t like to see a major snowstorm hit Columbia each day, we wish the MU community would remember the good deeds that were done Thursday, either by themselves or by others. The kind of community and cooperative spirit we witnessed during the storm and its aftermath should always be present at MU, and we urge you to keep that spirit in mind even after the streets are cleared and the snow melts to once again reveal Missouri’s green grass.
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