We all make bad decisions; it’s human nature. Sometimes you avoid work until it’s too late and you have to spend all night working on it. Sometimes you drink too much and wake up in your bathroom with no recollection of where you were or how you got home. Sometimes you close school when it’s unwarranted, as Drexel University did some weeks ago for a 20-inch storm that failed to materialize. Evening classes were canceled nonetheless, and some productivity and class time was lost. Big whoop. We recovered.
On March 5, in an attempt to save face or something, even with mountains of snow falling and eminently dangerous conditions (our editor-in-chief, for instance, fell twice on the way to an early-morning exam, and at time of writing is still complaining of head pains), the University did not close until noon. That’s great if you live on campus — you can go home pretty easily. If you live in Bucks County, South Philly or even Fairmount, well, now you’re trapped on campus. Hope you have money for the Sheraton, because sleeping in campus buildings is prohibited.
When faced with a decision to close for weather, organizations can’t make a “good” decision. What needs to occur is the “least-bad” decision. Either A: the organization closes, and productivity is lost, or B: the organization remains open, putting those traveling to work or classes at risk of injury and damage to personal property.
For certain organizations, like emergency call centers, industrial plants with continuous production, this newspaper you are reading today, option “A” is impossible. People have to come in no matter what as work has to be done because emergencies need to be handled, or because the industrial plant will explode, or because it would be really embarrassing for there not to be a new Triangle on the racks on Friday.
For everyone else, the loss of productivity associated with option “A” needs to be evaluated alongside the risk of option “B.”
Drexel, of course, experiences no direct risk, in a business sense, from taking option “B:” If students are injured or killed in another 56-car pile-up on I-76, like the one during the Jan. 18 ice storm, they’ve already paid their tuition money. Take them off the roster and advertise smaller class sizes. (It’s a win-win!)
This is also incredibly callous, heartless and just plain mean from a humane perspective, and frankly, unnecessary. We can afford to lose some class time; but putting students’ safety at risk is unacceptable.