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Students confused over UMKC’s inclement weather policy

Don’t you hate going outside only to feel like you’re about to freeze your hands off? Wearing layers upon layers just to get to class?

Students faced this challenge last Thursday when they walked through what Fox 4 Kansas City reported as -15 degree wind chills. Several school districts in the Greater Kansas City area either canceled or delayed classes due to the cold temperatures students would face.

As temperatures dropped significantly and winter conditions were undeniable, UMKC did not close any campuses nor delay class start time. 

However, though it was not the initial plan, all campuses closed due to weather the day of the Chiefs Super Bowl victory parade, which saw higher temperatures. This decision process has some students wondering whether the true factor in the decision was the parade rather than the weather.

Following the Chiefs Super Bowl victory, an initial email from UMKC informed students that only the Health Sciences campus would be closed the day of the parade. Students were not happy, with one starting a petition calling for the school to cancel classes on both campuses. The petition quickly gained over 1,200 signatures.

“I signed the petition. This was a historic moment for the city and for UMKC. To not be a part of it was disappointing,” said Julio Gracida, an electrical and computer engineering student.

Freshman mechanical engineering student Abisai Torres was disappointed by the initial decision to keep campus open, seeing it as a chance for the city to come together as one. So when a second email went out a day before the parade to tell students all campuses would be closed due to the weather, he was excited.

“I was surprised because the first email was very firm about their decision,” said Gracida. “I think the weather was used as a front, because it’s been cold before and classes still run smoothly. I was worried about the traffic from the parade so I was going to spend the night at a friend’s apartment near campus to get to class.

Torres was also surprised by the news. 

“It was phrased in a way that I didn’t think they would change,” Torres said. “Many people didn’t want school and it showed that we have a voice on campus.” 

Torres said that although UMKC administration claimed weather was the deciding factor, he was glad he felt students were being heard.

Jose Gomez, a studio art major, says that he doesn’t believe that weather was the main reason for cancellation.

“It did snow a little but there was no big snowstorm,” Gomez said.

Gomez felt the decision gave Chancellor Mauli Agrawal a good look and showed he listens to the student body.

Although students are reluctant to believe that weather and parade logistics were the only factors involved in the campus closures, UMKC affirms that weather was the decision-maker.

“We initially anticipated that the parade would generate a bearable level of inconvenience. The change in the weather forecast was the deciding factor,” said Assistant Director of Strategic Communications Stacy Downs.

Biology student Elena Le says that because the campus closures were said to be due to weather the day of the parade, students are now confused as to why they won’t cancel when the wind chill falls under zero degrees.

“UMKC’s cancellation policy does not seem consistent, nor is it clear on how they reached the decision to cancel school or not,” said political science student Brandon Henderson. “It seems at times that they contradict their policy in their decisions.”

As the frigid temperatures continue, students are encouraged to layer up to avoid frostbite and hypothermia. 

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