Students upset university open during snow storm

University of Toronto students forced to commute during blizzard when other schools closed

universitty snowbound
St. George campus is snowbound during the storm Feb. 12. Courtesy of Ian Dennis Miller

On Feb. 12, universities and colleges across the GTA closed following Environment Canada’s storm warning — except for the University of Toronto’s St. George campus.

U of T’s decision to keep the campus open until 4 p.m. angered students who had to brave the weather to attend mandatory classes.

Jessica Pulido, a 20-year-old criminology student, said what made her even more angry was that the university had closed its Mississauga and Scarborough campus hours before closing the downtown campus.

She said she was reluctant to leave her home in Milton on Feb. 12 for her two-hour commute to school. “I had a class at four that day, so I was waiting to see if they would close anything.”

While she was making her way to school she found out it would be closing at 4 p.m. “I was actually at the GO station, because I have to take the Milton transit to the GO, and that’s when I got the email,” she said.

U of T defended it’s decision to stay open most of the day.

“The decision to cancel classes or close a campus is always challenging and a number of factors are considered, including public transportation, highway conditions, and snow and ice removal on campus grounds,” university spokesperson Elizabeth Church said. “In addition, differences in geographic locations may often lead to decisions that differ at our three campuses.”

Twenty-three-year-old international relations student Isaac Lopez-Cordell commuted from St. Clair Avenue West and Christie Street. When he found out his mandatory quiz was not cancelled, he started making his way to school.

He tweeted his displeasure, saying he hated the university for staying open that day.

“Because of the storm, the TTC was drastically slowed down,” he said in an interview. “When I made that tweet, I was waiting for the streetcar for about 45 minutes.”

Lopez-Cordell created an Twitter account on that day just to show his frustration.

He said he barely made it on time to his quiz, and that he left an hour early to avoid the worsening storm.

“I had a couple of friends in that class that ended up biting the bullet and missing the five per cent for that quiz because they didn’t feel safe to drive,” said Lopez-Cordell.

The commute to the school wasn’t the only problem.

According to Rene Caruso, 19, the school grounds were a mess.

“The grounds had not been fully cleared from the last time we had bad weather,” she said. “Everything accumulated onto the old, making conditions even worse,”

St. George campus stairs are covered with snow and ice.

Caruso is a first-year life sciences student, which requires her to carry a lab coat, laptop, and other materials required for her labs.

With the school’s conditions as they were, Caruso took to social media with her frustration of the school being open.

Aidan Swirsky, the communications coordinator for UC Lit, noticed the student outrage all over the schools social media.

UC Lit is the main student government for the campuses seven colleges.

Swirsky said this is the second time this year that the St. George campus chose to stay open during a storm while other schools had closed.

“They are adhering to this weird tradition of University of Toronto that they haven’t closed for inclement weather since World War II,” Swirsky said.

Swirsky wrote a letter to administration to express how disgruntled students were with this decision.

The administration did not give any outward communication about why they chose to stay open during the storm, he said.

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Posted: Mar 7 2019 11:44 am
Filed under: Features Profiles