Commuting during winter
Weather conditions make attendance difficult for students living off-campus
The harsh winters in Buffalo can be strenuous for those who live on campus, but for some commuter students, the drive to campus and search for a parking spot during hazardous weather can be a difficult journey.
As the spring semester begins, a number of commuters are already concerned about the weather being a burden to their education at UB. Sixty-two percent of undergraduate students commute to UB, according to the Office of Institutional Analysis from fall 2016.
Evan Conley, a senior economics major living near Lockport, feels uncomfortable commuting in poor conditions. What is usually a half hour drive can take up to two hours in snowy conditions.
“I end up missing class even though I left early,” Conley said.
Parking is a common problem among commuters, especially in snow-filled parking lots.
Lauren Smith, a junior biomedical sciences and psychology major, is satisfied with the way the roads around campus are cleared, but thought the parking lots could use more work. She said most of the lots are not plowed when she typically arrives to campus around 9 a.m.
“Finding a parking spot is hard when it is nice out, but it is almost impossible when there is snow on the ground,” Smith said.
A 24-person day shift crew is available between mid-November through late March from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. University facilities also have an eight person snow and ice removal crew working on campus on weekdays from 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. when conditions permit, according to the UB Snow Removal Plan and Procedure.
Aside from snow removal in lots, some students like Jessica Dowling, a junior biological sciences major, said some professors aren’t accomodating for lateness or missed classes due to weather.
“I wish my professors were more understanding if I missed due to winter conditions, as it is extremely terrifying driving through a snowstorm just to make it to a 50-minute class,” Dowling said.
Anne Schifferle, a senior accounting major, said the leniency depends on the individual professor and if they have to drive far or not.
“Professors are more likely to understand if they are in the same shoes as you are and have to drive to campus from miles away,” Schifferle said. “It is the professors who do not have a long drive who have difficulties comprehending why you are late and stick to their strict attendance policies.”
UB seldom closes campus due to severe weather conditions; the school closed once last year and only after Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency across New York.
In the future, commuters like Conley hope that UB does more to help students like him during extreme weather.
“I think UB should invest in expanding the number of parking spaces available to students,” Conley said. “They should also put efforts into improving their snow removal services to help keep the parking spots visible and I suggest even plowing the lots before students get there.”
Erik Tingue is an assistant features editor and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.