As sad as it may be, please don’t start crying… we live in the Midwest. The fact of the matter is that the winter air hurts my face, but nearly 30,000 students are supposed to bare the harsh winters and make it to class in these frigid temperatures (if we can get out of our warm robes and off our futons, that is.)
The polar vortex has hit Milwaukee hard this winter, and contrary to popular belief, it isn’t close to over.
In January, UWM closed their doors for two partial days as a result of these frigid temperatures. This is a rare occasion and probably won’t happen again in these next weeks of continuing awful temperatures.
So the question is, where the hell is the line regarding student safety in these temperatures? Is it going to take a case of a student getting hypothermia or frostbite to bring light to the situation?
I understand that UWM isn’t going to shut down all operations for a few inches of snow, because we have all indeed trudged through a foot of snow only to get to class in wet ass socks. Snow is obviously dangerous for commuters, but not much of an issue for students who live on or near campus. But when it comes to nearly all of the students being put at risk for hypothermia while trying to make it class, then there is a problem.
When temperatures drop to below -10 degrees, which has been prominent in the past couple months or so, just 30 minutes of outdoor exposure can cause hypothermia. This isn’t even factoring in wind chill. When temperatures are at -10 degrees with 30 mile an hour winds, hypothermia risk is knocked down to a measly 10 minutes, which is longer than most of our walks to campus. I’m also pretty sure that the “wind tunnels” scattered around campus contain 375 mile an hour winds.
From personal experience, most professors are relatively understanding when students can’t make it to campus when temperatures are freaking awful. Although, being unable to make it to class because of weather issues is technically an unexcused absence, but there isn’t much students can do in these situations. A crap ton of people’s cars won’t start, that’s just a fact. With UWM being a huge commuter campus, many of its students live out of range to reach the bus lines when car troubles do arise. Oh, and the wait for the bus could give you hypothermia alone because we all know the bus schedule is a LIE.
UWM likes to relay to its current and prospective students that safety is a huge concern on campus. With programs like BOSS, the safe walkers, and the safe phones all over campus, why is the possibility of hypothermia so overlooked and not viewed as a safety issue? It sounds to me like campus officials are contradicting themselves with safety concerns.
So what can we do to bring light to this? Sadly, there is not much. It took -40 degree wind chills and high risk for frostbite and hypothermia for UWM to call a half day, so obviously whoever makes the decision to call off school has a much warmer jacket than me and working heat in their car.