Editorial: School not conducive to snow

By Staff Editorial

Friday hosted the beginning of the region’s fourth worst snowstorm in recorded history,… Friday hosted the beginning of the region’s fourth worst snowstorm in recorded history, which ended at noon, Saturday. In less than 24 hours, enough snowflakes fell to cost the city what will probably be a week of hindered services and troubled transportation. The fall totaled 21.1 inches.

City services are not operating as normal.

Allegheny County, and the whole of Pennsylvania are still in a state of emergency. Pennsylvania American Water, a water treatment plant that lost power Saturday, only lifted its mandatory water conservation order to customers yesterday. Additionally, Allegheny County announced more than 45,000 customers are without power as of Sunday. Port Authority resumed service, although it is still limited and not on a strict schedule.

A brief look around Oakland and it is obvious that getting to and from class will be difficult for students, faculty and staff. With dropping temperatures, ice becomes another safety concern. And it is not over yet. The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch for Tuesday and Wednesday.

But the trek will be even more difficult for the many students, faculty and staff members who live outside Oakland. With many roads still unplowed and buses running infrequently, the Monday pilgrimage will be both inconvenient and dangerous.

Pitt should be open to canceling class not only today, but every day until conditions become safe and practical for the University to operate.

Historically, Pitt rarely cancels class due to weather, operating four years since the last cancellation. Sometimes night classes are canceled, and sometimes weekend classes are, like Saturday’s classes were. Last Friday’s classes should have been canceled, or at least cut short a little early so people were not stranded on campus.

Libraries and computer labs closed by noon on Saturday for specific reasons. Conditions have barely changed and such reasons would logically hold true for the rest of the week until the snow is cleared enough for campus activity to continue.

Currently, Forbes and Fifth avenues are still blanketed with snow, hardened by those few braving the weather to reach their destinations. Few sidewalks are clear, and even these sidewalks were not so until the storm ended, so they are still difficult to use; at least the purple salt is pretty. Doing anything on campus proves to be a challenge, but the smaller streets farther from campus are even worse.

Canceling class for just one day does not mean much. If the roads and sidewalks are still the same on Thursday, given Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s forecast, there is still no reason to keep the University open.

Doing so would create major academic and financial inconvenience, but safety needs to be Pitt’s top priority.