OPINION: The lack of K-State snow days is embarrassing and sad

Workers shovel snow in front of Van Zile Hall. (Archive photo by Emily DeShazer | Collegian Media Group)

It was raining, snowing, hailing and thundering all at once in Manhattan last night. The administration of Kansas State University might not know this, but snow is cold, ice is potentially life threatening and thunder is loud — loud enough to scare my cat half to death.

How long do we have to put up with dangerous, painful commutes to campus in agonizing winter weather? It’s expected at this point that K-State will ignore the recommendations of the National Weather Service, fellow Kansas universities and area K-12 schools, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.

K-State’s weather policy is a joke, but it’s the kind of joke that hurts students’ grades when it’s not hurting their kneecaps.

Time and time again, K-State shows a lack of regard for its students and employees when the weather gets abysmal.

What’s it all for? A warped sense of pride and accomplishment? Pride doesn’t pay worker’s compensation and give out attendance points.

When K-12 schools cancel, K-State workers with young children have to find childcare solutions while they’re traveling across the damn arctic tundra.

When other universities cancel, it tells prospective K-State students that we’re not the university for them if they value their health and safety. And I thought we were trying to raise enrollment.

When government offices cancel, it shows how dangerous the roads and sidewalks really are. Car accidents are one of the most common ways to die, and the only roads that are getting the proper treatment are the ones in Manhattan (if we’re lucky). Good luck to all the students who live outside of town!

K-State’s snow day phobia is becoming increasingly unacceptable. They tell us to “exercise caution” and only leave “if it’s safe.” They somehow don’t realize that any class with attendance points — for my major, all of them — is going to hurt students that prioritize their well being.

Telling concerned students to lose attendance points — or lose out on lecture information that their professor almost certainly won’t share with them because they say they’re too busy — is a non-choice.

Unfortunately, most students are smart enough to know that classes are more important than their health because a sprained ankle doesn’t cost $65 per credit hour.

In high school, I drove my car to the free parking lot and walked in the cold for less than a minute to get inside the warm building, where I stayed for eight hours. When I graduate, I’ll likely get a job where I drive my car to the free parking lot and walk in the cold for less than a minute to get inside the warm building, where I will stay for eight hours.

In college, I walk for five to 10 minutes every hour because all my classes are in different buildings. To get to my first class, I either drive and pay for parking, followed by five minutes of walking (cold), bike across slippery sidewalks and risk my safety (colder) or walk the whole way while the wind chills the air down to zero (coldest).

I’ve seen students slip, fall and hit their heads on concrete on the way to class. I’ve seen secretaries with injured wrists travel through tumultuous weather again because they slipped and fell the day prior and they need to fill out worker’s compensation paperwork. This is ridiculous.

Hopefully K-State will come to its senses and realize that not every student is an able-bodied survival expert who lives near campus or owns a well functioning car with off-road tires, but I doubt it’ll happen before I graduate.

Kyle Hampel is the copy chief and deputy multimedia editor for the Collegian and a senior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

Those words you just read were written by me, Kyle Hampel. I am a 2019 graduate in English. I have strong feelings about barbeque pizza and the Oxford comma. I am a former copy chief, community editor, feature editor, designer and deputy multimedia editor. Beloit, Kansas, is proud to call me their own, along with several other towns I've lived in that aren't as special to me.