New policies in place for weather alerts

Senior News Reporter

In light of recent inclement weather, new procedures have been implemented to avoid confusion among faculty, staff and students.

University President Denise Trauth discussed Texas State’s procedure for communicating decisions about school closures with the Faculty Senate during its Wednesday meeting. The new procedures will implement regularly scheduled conference calls with administrators to make decisions regarding campus closures, and students will be notified of their conclusions by 2 a.m.

Inclement weather on Tuesday, Jan. 28 caused confusion for students who wanted to know whether the campus would be open for classes that day, faculty senators said. The issue of the university’s delayed response to icy or otherwise bad weather was a concern for the senators.  

Students received an email Wednesday that detailed the new procedure regarding weather announcements. The email states students will now be notified by 2 a.m. the morning of adverse weather conditions whether the school will have closures. With the new policy of a 2 a.m. announcement, university officials can no longer wait to make decisions about delays and closures, Trauth said.

Michel Conroy, Faculty Senate chair, said students had called the San Marcos Police Department Jan. 28 and asked if the campus was closed, and were told it was up to their professors’ discretion.

“There were wild interpretations of what was going to happen,” Conroy said.

Relaying the information sooner will be beneficial for both students and faculty, Trauth said. Delay and closure news will be displayed on the Texas State web page to provide easier access to the information.

Additionally, Texas State will participate in scheduled conference calls with law enforcement institutions, meteorologists, the University of Texas and Austin Community College to determine whether the campus should be closed for inclement weather.  

Trauth said there are about 10 people who manage campus emergencies such as the recent bomb hoax and severe weather conditions who stay up throughout the night trying to decide whether to close the campus.

“They’re playing very close attention to this,” Trauth said. “The thing they care the most about is safety.”

Residence and dining halls are the first areas on campus to be prepped for inclement weather so that paths are safe for residential students, Trauth said. Focus goes to residence and dining halls immediately after officials are aware of severe weather conditions early in the morning. It cannot be guaranteed that the rest of the campus will be ready by noon, Trauth said.

Administrators work “literally around the clock” when an emergency happens, Trauth said.

“They’re very, very committed to Texas State being a safe place,” Trauth said. “The wonderful thing about this university is that we have professionals at the helm.”

Trauth encourages students, faculty and staff to sign up for text message alerts to stay informed about campus closures or delays.

Students are often afraid of not going to class during inclement weather because of potential consequences, and Trauth urges students to use their best judgment.

“People have to feel empowered to make a decision that will then be respected,” Trauth said. “And we can’t second guess each other on that.”

Problematic driving situations are different for each person, and the thought of driving in inclement weather causes some people stress, Trauth said.

“No matter what the official announcement is, if you’re in a situation where you can’t come in, don’t come in,” said Cynthia Opheim, associate provost of Academic Affairs.