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How decision to remain in session was made Monday, Nov. 21
November 21, 2016Tweet
Classes were not canceled on Monday, Nov. 21, but the decision to remain in session was not made lightly.
The decision to remain in session rather than delay or cancel classes is a team decision that involves a group of a dozen people whose names and positions are listed at the end of this message. The University’s emergency manager, Dave Hubeny, monitors weather conditions, and when a potential storm is approaching he emails the entire decision team, providing updated weather briefings as necessary. The team then communicates by email, and if the storm is significant, as the one on Monday was, we schedule a conference call for 5 a.m. the morning of the storm.
At 4 a.m., the president drove around Vestal, Binghamton and the campus, including Vestal Ave., State St., Main St., Leroy St., Riverside Drive, the Vestal Parkway, the 201, our campus roads and our parking lots. When he arrived back at his home, he reviewed the email waiting for him from Hubeny with the most recent update from the National Weather Service. He also reviewed local school district closing information, as well as what decisions other colleges within an hour’s drive of our campus – SUNY Broome, Cortland, Cornell, Oneonta and Delhi – are making.
During the 5 a.m. conference call with the team, the president offers a plan to the group for its consideration. This week, he made the decision to remain in session. The team agreed, but also agreed to monitor conditions as the day progressed.
The team then discussed a list of standard questions that need answers before a decision is finalized. These include:
• What are the regional colleges doing? SUNY Broome closed, but others remained open.
• Is OCCT able to operate? Yes, it was.
• Was BC Transit operating as normal? Yes, it was.
• Will dining halls be open and staffed? Yes, they would be.
• How were the campus roads and parking lots? At 5 a.m. they were in good shape, but work would continue as long as necessary.
• How are the sidewalks? They needed some work and we would be continuously cleaning them as long as necessary.
As stewards of state taxpayer and student tuition funds, if we cancel a full day of classes we will spend approximately $2 million and have little to show for it. Canceled classes will not be made up and our students and our state economy will be the ones who pay for this lost educational cost.
Many times during the decision process the team considers those students, staff and faculty who have a long distance to commute. We have said many times that safety is our highest priority, and we would not want anyone to put themselves at risk. So we rely on our belief that if everyone drives carefully and takes a bit of extra time to make it here we are not putting people at risk. However, if some feel they are at risk if they drive, we believe we have reasonable students and faculty who would understand and be accommodating if they are unable to make it to campus and. We ask that people use their best judgment.
Our professional and support staff also know that if they decide to remain home from work, they must take a vacation day to do so. This is in their contract, and they are reminded of this in a memo each fall. The only person who has the authority to authorize state workers to not come to work and still be paid is the governor.
In the end, we know that we will get complaints, but we are confident that our decision was made in the best interest of our students and our taxpayers.
We hope this message gives you a bit of insight into a difficult decision and how it was made.
• Harvey Stenger, president
• Don Nieman, executive vice president for Academic Affairs and provost
• Brian Rose, vice president for Student Affairs
• JoAnn Navarro, vice president for Operations
• Tim Faughnan, chief of University Police
• Dave Hubeny, director of Emergency Management
• Eric Backlund, director of Risk Management
• Dave Husch, director of University Transportation
• Peter Napolitano, director of Auxiliary Services
• Paul Crisman, grounds service manager
• Katie Ellis, senior director of Communications and Marketing
• Ryan Yarosh, director of Media and Public Relations
• Ryan Sheppard, student