UB cancels classes Thursday amid student frustration


UB has canceled classes for Thursday, a measure many students felt the university should have taken sooner.

The campus remained open Tuesday and Wednesday as a lake effect snowstorm tore through parts of Western New York. One student was so frustrated UB remained opened he created an online petition asking officials to close the campus "until the surrounding area is removed from its status as a 'state of emergency.'" It reached more than 1,000 signatures.

UB’s decision not to close was also picked up in a story entitled "You Won’t Believe What University At Buffalo Is Making Their Students Do Today" on the popular website Thought Catalog and was shared across students' Facebook feeds throughout the day Wednesday.

Comments on the petition include statements like “I go to UB and don’t want to die trying to get to class.”

UB announced the cancelation in an alert Wednesday night at 10:30 p.m. stating:

“Due to worsening weather conditions predicted to affect UB’s campuses tonight and tomorrow, and the storm’s continuing impact on our students, faculty, staff and their families, the University at Buffalo has cancelled all day and evening classes and activities for Thursday, Nov. 20.”

On Tuesday, UB Spokesman John Della Contrada said students, faculty and staff were expected to use “their best judgment” in deciding if they should come to campus. UB’s alerts Tuesday and Wednesday stated the same thing.

Wednesday afternoon, the university made a post reassuring students who were unable to attend class – like the students living in the numerous towns under driving bans – would be granted an excused absence.

Though the university held classes Wednesday, many professors opted to send out emails instructing students not to come to campus.

"I'm glad they made the decision, but disappointed that it took so much community pressure for them to do it," said Jason Fialkowski, a senior computer science major, who started the online petition.

He said he did so because he saw the demand. He said every time a student signed the petition an email was sent to UB administration he linked to the petition, including President Satish Tripathi.

"Hopefully I don't get in trouble for flooding his inbox," he said. "He would have received about 1,200 emails."

Since the announced cancelation, UB students have taken to Twitter to express their relief.

As of Wednesday night, the storm had caused seven deaths.

SUNY Buffalo State, Canisus, Daemen and D'Youville, among other local colleges, were closed Wednesday and will also be closed Thursday.

Tripathi makes the final decision on whether campus activites and classes are canceled. Gov. Andrew Cuomo only makes the decision to close all SUNY campuses.

A lake effect snow warning is running from 11 p.m. Wednesday to 1 a.m. Friday in Erie County. The Southtowns, which were already hit the hardest on Tuesday with up to six feet of dense snow, will likely be pummeled with accumulations of up to two more feet of snow.

Amanda Low contributed reporting to this story.

email: sara.dinatale@ubspectrum.com