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The brains behind campus closure

Icy+road+conditions+caused+USA+to+close+down.
Icy road conditions caused USA to close down.

Icy road conditions caused USA to close down.

Shelby Guidry

Shelby Guidry

Icy road conditions caused USA to close down.

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The University of South Alabama closed its campus on Tuesday, Jan. 16 due to inclement cold weather temperatures that could have affected commuting students and employees; Michael Haskins, USA’s director of marketing and communications, explained to The Vanguard the process that the university takes to make the decision on whether or not to close campus.

According to Haskins, USA leadership considers many things when it comes to campus closure. An entire team of people decide on whether the main and Baldwin county campuses should close, but USA president Dr. Tony Waldrop has the ultimate authority over the decision.

“The final decision to close the campus is made by the [USA] president, in consultation with the university’s senior leadership team,” Haskins stated. “When severe weather appears imminent in the Mobile region, the [USA] president calls together the leadership team to review weather information and predictions that are provided by the USA Coastal Weather Research Center, and to discuss the implications and logistics of closing the campus.”

According to Haskins, the president asks for input and suggestions from many areas of the university including the Coastal Weather Research Center, USA Police, Safety and Environmental Compliance, Housing and Dining, Facilities Management, Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. The Department of Safety and Environmental Compliance website states academic affairs, vice presidents, deans and other administrative representatives also weigh in on whether or not to close campus.

“The decision takes into account many factors, including reports on regional road and travel conditions that might affect commuter students and employees, as well as conditions on campus,” Haskins stated. “The overriding factor in the final decision is to ensure the university acts appropriately to protect the safety and well-being of our students and employees.”

“The decision to close campus is only made after careful consideration,” Haskins stated. “Campus closures can have an impact on student progress and faculty schedules for classes, labs, exams and other important activities. In addition, the university prefers whenever possible to keep facilities such as the Marx Library and Student Recreation Center open. Therefore, the decision to close is made only when weather conditions appear to be unsafe for normal travel.”

The department of safety and environmental compliance states in its class cancellation policy that factors contributing to the decision to cancel classes are travel conditions, warnings provided by local agencies and availability of essential services.

“One important thing students can do is become familiar with the information on the university’s safety alert website,” Haskins stated. “Also, students should monitor the university’s website, email and social media for announcements during severe weather events, and follow the instructions of USA Police and other university officials in an emergency. In addition, it’s important for students and parents to know that the campus is never completely closed, because essential personnel such as USA Police, Facilities Management and Housing and Dining staff remain on campus during severe weather events.”

To stay up to date with school closures, visit the university’s safety alert website atsouthalabama.edu/ departments/environmental.

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The University of South Alabama's student news site
The brains behind campus closure