Student files complaint against UB for not closing during winter storm
Student says UB’s decision to remain open was ‘negligent’
Buffalo winter storms often leave many students baffled at UB’s decisions to remain open.
Some students take to social media to complain, while others have even started petitions in years past.
Richard Pandey took his complaints straight to the New York state attorney general’s office and the inspector general’s office.
Pandey, who says he is a UB student, said he filed a complaint to the attorney general’s office and the inspector general’s office against the university for remaining open on Feb. 12, which he calls a “negligent" decision.
Pandey said in an email that he filed the complaint because “the university required students to attend classes and other activities despite the poor weather conditions and a warning by New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, where he warned residents to stay in doors given a weather advisory.”
Complaints to both offices can be filed via an online form on the respective websites.
Pandey notified Vice President of University Life and Services Dennis Black via email of his plans to file a complaint on Feb. 12, and told The Spectrum he submitted a complaint that same day.
Pandey’s name does not come up in the UB Directory and he did not immediately respond to emails asking to confirm his status as a student. He did not use a UB email in emails to both The Spectrum and Black.
Pandey told The Spectrum he did not receive a reference number or receipt for his complaint. The New York state attorney general’s office and the inspector general’s office said they could not confirm the complaint due to confidentiality.
He said the inclement weather conditions and unplowed, unshoveled streets on UB’s North and South Campuses placed both drivers and pedestrians at risk due to poor visibility.
His email also said the least the university could have done was to issue a message to students and professors asking them to “utilize their best judgments and for professors to not be penalize students for the actions they took.”
Black responded to Pandey’s email on Feb. 15.
“Only the state governor can officially order state agencies to close down and his message about cold weather over the weekend did not constitute a state decision to shut down state operations, like UB,” Black said in the email obtained by The Spectrum.
He said UB, however, would cancel all classes “when warranted by campus or community conditions.”
Black told The Spectrum the university remains in close contact with the National Weather Service, county and city emergency planners and UB facilities and public safety departments when inclement weather situations arise.
“The decision to cancel classes is based on the input of a campus leadership advisory group made up of officials from across the university responsible for student life and safety, academic scheduling, emergency management, athletics, human resources, facilities operations and campus infrastructure,” Black said.
The decision to cancel classes considers factors such as existing weather conditions, according to Black.
He said such weather conditions are subject to change on an hourly basis.
The university also takes a look at forecasts throughout the region, conditions of roads both on and off campus, travel warnings or bans issued by neighboring municipalities and scheduled academic and extracurricular activities, according to Black.
“Snowy, wintry days are not an uncommon occurrence in Western New York, and sometimes inclement weather is very localized and changes by the hour,” said UB Spokesperson John Della Contrada via email. “If any student is unable to attend a class or exam or complete assignments because of weather-related conditions, the university has a policy in in place to accommodate them.”
Ashley Inkumsah is a news desk editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.