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UTM closing at 5:00 pm

Classes or events that start before 5:00 pm will end at 5:00 pm

UTM closing at 5:00 pm

Due to severe weather conditions, UTM will be closing at 5:00 pm today.

An email announcement was sent out to students shortly after 3:00 pm. All UTM classes, tutorials, labs, tests, meetings, and other on-campus activities are cancelled.

In addition, classes or events that start before 5:00 pm will end at 5:00 pm.

Shuttle buses between UTM and Sheridan College are also cancelled, as are all School of Continuing Studies classes.

This marks the fourth time the campus has been closed this year. UTSC and UTSG remain open.

Students upset by untimeliness of UTSG closure during winter storm, describe dangerous commutes

Upset students say that the decision to keep campus open endangers commuters

Students upset by untimeliness of UTSG closure during winter storm, describe dangerous commutes

UTSG students are reacting negatively to the university’s decision to keep the campus open during the winter storm that took place last Tuesday, when Environment Canada had issued a warning for a mix of snow, ice pellets, freezing rain, and strong winds.

While both UTM and UTSC were closed as of 6:45 am on Tuesday morning, UTSG did not announce that classes would be cancelled at 4:00 pm until nearly noon. The campus itself remained open throughout the day.

Upset students say that the decision to keep campus open endangers commuters, who are disadvantaged by the late notice of class cancellations, after many students have already arrived on campus.

During similar severe weather on January 28, U of T notified UTSG students that classes were cancelled as of 6:00 pm with a UTAlert email just minutes before.

Critics say that it is especially important make the announcement earlier because the majority of UTSG students are commuters — a 2015 study by StudentMoveTO found that 53 per cent of students take either local or regional transit to get to campus.

The university says it takes many factors into consideration when deciding whether or not to cancel classes or close a campus, and said that the safety of the U of T community is a “top priority.”

“The decision to cancel classes or close a campus is always challenging and a number of factors are considered, including public transportation, highway conditions, and snow and ice removal on campus grounds. In addition, differences in geographic locations may often lead to decisions that differ at our three campuses,” said U of T spokesperson Elizabeth Church.

Church denied the rumour that circulated on social media that U of T’s funding is affected by the decision to close campus. “Our provincial funding is based primarily on enrolment and is not affected by campus closures because of severe weather,” she said.

A change.org petition was created by a U of T student on the day of the storm, calling on  Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr and Vice-President Human Resources & Equity Kelly Hannah-Moffat to close the St. George campus “in tandem with UTM and UTSC” during severe weather. It has already gathered over 4,000 signatures.

Maryama Ahmed, a fourth-year student, started the petition out of frustration, seeing early Tuesday morning that many other schools in the GTA were closed.

“I started the petition to respectfully show the decision-makers… that this kind of decision-making is irresponsible and dangerous, and that UTSG needs to change how they decide on school closures,” said Ahmed.

Several students described dangerous commutes to UTSG during the storms to The Varsity.

Miryam Kaduri, a second-year student, said that while walking between classes, she slipped on a patch of ice and fell face forward. After visiting the Health & Wellness Centre, it was determined that Kaduri had a suspected concussion.

“I am extremely concerned for the health and well being of my fellow students during this intense season, and troubled that the university did not foresee the potential for problems, despite every other university and school board closing,” she said.

A third-year industrial engineering student who wished to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns, and who commutes from Brampton, said that they decided not to come to campus on Tuesday after they were rear-ended on the way home due to the dangerous driving conditions of the January 28 storm.

“I didn’t want to endanger myself out in the storm again. I think it’s completely unfair that there even has to be a trade-off between my safety versus my academics,” they said.

University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) President Anne Boucher commented on Reddit, “The university has a responsibility to ensure that students are able to attend classes safely.”

Boucher added that the UTSU is scheduling meetings with the administration to address the issue of campus closures in severe weather.

Schools and universities around the GTA closed their campuses in a similar fashion to UTM and UTSC. Ryerson University announced that it would be closed at 5:16 am, while York University announced that it would be closing its downtown locations and Keele and Glendon campuses effective 5:30 am The Toronto District School Board, the largest in Canada, also called its first snow day since 2011.

The Breakdown: U of T policies behind cancelling classes

UTM, UTSC must give hours notice for evening cancellations, UTSG has no guidelines

The Breakdown: U of T policies behind cancelling classes

Toronto weathered a miserable and messy Monday as the city saw a record-breaking 19 centimetres of snowfall on January 28. Throughout the day, U of T’s three campuses closed or cancelled classes due to the weather. With temperatures expected to remain chilly, The Varsity took a look at how and when U of T campuses decide to close.

UTM

The first campus to take action at around 10:00 am, UTM announced on January 28 that it would be closing at 4:00 pm “due to worsening weather conditions.”

According to the campus’ website, notices for full-day or morning cancellations at UTM are posted by 6:00 am, with updates for evening classes and events generally made by 3:00 pm.

All decisions regarding class cancellations at UTM are informed by its chief administrative officer (CAO) and Campus Police, and made by its Vice-President & Principal. In the event of campus closure, decisions are also discussed with the Vice-President Human Resources & Equity.

Prior to Monday’s closure, UTM was last closed in April due to an ice storm.

According to UTM’s Weather Information page, aside from current and predicted weather conditions, factors considered before closing campus include the states of local roads, walkways, and transit operations, any closures of local and regional businesses and schools, and the consequences of closing campus.

Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories on January 28.

Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories on January 28. SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

UTSC

Following suit less than two hours later, UTSC declared all classes and scheduled events on January 28 cancelled starting at 5:00 pm.

According to its severe weather guidelines, UTSC’s decisions for morning and evening classes are posted around 6:30 am and 4:15 pm respectively.

Cancellations at UTSC are also determined by its Vice-President & Principal based on advice from its CAO and Director of Campus Safety and Security. Closures are likewise discussed with the Vice-President Human Resources & Equity. Last April’s ice storm also saw UTSC close.

UTSG

While updates for UTM and UTSC evening classes were given with at least five-hours notice, classes at UTSG scheduled for after 6:00 pm were not cancelled until after 2:30 pm, with emails not sent until a few minutes before the hour.

According to the provost office’s policy on class cancellations, UTSG staff, faculty, and students should be alerted of morning and full-day cancellations or closures by 6:00 am.

The provost’s office gives no indication for how soon updates on evening classes can be expected.

Both the Vice-President & Provost and Vice-President Human Resources & Equity are involved in determining UTSG’s status under adverse weather conditions. Concerns from Campus Police and the Vice-President University Operations are also considered.

Freezing students walk through the wintery abyss on a cold and snowy day in Toronto.

Freezing students walk through the wintery abyss on a cold and snowy day in Toronto. SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

In the event of a campus closure on any given day, including weekends, all on-campus activities and events are cancelled and all buildings are locked, with the exception of essential services such as campus security and residence-related services.

During class cancellations, all non-academic services remain operational. Proceedings of non-academic events and operating hours for campus facilities may vary at the discretion of their respective supervisors. Students who are unable to attend classes are advised to look through the syllabi of affected classes for policies on attendance and late or missed assignments and exams.

Of 16 other colleges and universities in southwestern Ontario affected, only Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Guelph, and the University of Waterloo remained open on January 28.