Humber’s commuting students vexed by delayed school cancellations

Feb 7, 2019 | Life

Water main break at North campus near Entrance D/Spruce Vista. (Kelvin Tran)

Michelle Halim

Humber College may have some answers for students who are annoyed about Humber’s school closure policies.

The winter weather has been unpredictable with temperature swings from -37  Celsius to +12 in a matter of days, which has led to unexpected school closures. A snowstorm followed by freezing rain on separate days closed the school on Wednesday, but students were notified late in the morning after many were already on campus.

“So, we get to school and within an hour and a half, I get an email from my prof saying that class is cancelled,” said Kendra Richards, a Child and Youth Care student. “I just think it’s really annoying because I don’t see the point in keeping the school open when you’re just going to close it at 12:30 p.m.”

Richards claimed other colleges have been informing their students about closures much earlier than Humber, which has led to students being even more upset about their long commutes.

“If professors who also have to commute think it’s unsafe, then I think they can take some responsibility to cancel their own classes and choose to post a Powerpoint on Blackboard or combine two lessons into one if need be,” said Richards. “They should take the responsibility and take that role as a leader in our education and our lives to make certain decisions in weather conditions when the Humber administration doesn’t take us into consideration.”

After the college posted the announcements of the closures on Twitter, students were not shy in saying how they felt.

In the past two weeks, Humber College has shut down its campuses three times. Two of those times have been due to severe weather conditions. The other was for a water main break.

Humber tweeted at 4:44 a.m. Wednesday that the school would be open as usual and it took several hours to reverse the decision.

Humber’s Director of Public Safety, Rob Kilfoyle, told Humber News that there isn’t a set criteria for shutting down the school due to weather conditions. The administration makes sure to check what other post-secondary institutions are doing, what the OPP recommend, what the TTC is saying and what the road conditions are near the Humber campuses.

Kilfoyle said the administration tries to make its decision for early classes by 5:30 a.m. every day and they usually revisit the matter by 3:30 p.m. for afternoon classes, which explains the school’s closure at 6:00 p.m. last Tuesday.

A number of administration members make recommendations to Laurie Rancourt, Senior Vice President of Academics, who then makes the final decision.

“There are 31,000 people here and it’s hard to please all of them, but we really try to do what’s best for everyone,” said Kilfoyle, an admin team member who helps make the decision on school closures. “Safety is always the overriding factor, so we just go from there.”

“Humber is a great school full of inclusivity, and there are so many outlets that help and give assistance to students. I just feel there are certain things that need to be worked on in reference to school closures and I think they should be listening to students and giving them more of a voice,” said Kendra Richards.