For the first time in history with records dating back to 1965, the University of Wisconsin cancelled today’s classes due to extreme blizzard conditions.
According to the National Weather Service, 10 to 14 inches of snow accumulation is expected by Wednesday afternoon.
Chancellor Biddy Martin said many factors contributed to her decision to close school, including the city and county’s weather reports, as well as the governor declaring weather conditions unsafe. All in all, Martin said safety was the main factor in her decision.
UW spokesperson John Lucas added the safety of employees and students with a commute was a particular concern.
According to Lucas, the last time a large portion of the day’s classes were canceled due to snow was Dec. 3, 1990, when then-chancellor Donna Shalala made the decision to halt classes at 10:30 a.m. Lucas said on that day 17 inches of snow fell over a period of 12 to 13 hours. He added that is the closest the UW had ever come to a full day closure in several decades, until now, adding that full closures are “extremely, extremely rare.”
“We’ve had a handful of partial [days] … but this is probably the biggest one in a while,” Lucas said.
Many students began celebrating Tuesday night, with some participating in snowball fights and others filling the parking lot at Riley’s Wines of the World.
UW junior Lindsay Shaw said she was “overwhelmed with joy” at the announcement, adding she plans on sleeping in tomorrow and then “playing in the snow like a child.” She also said she was not worried about missing information close to finals.
“I’m just looking at this as a mental health day,” said Shaw.
Not all UW students are thrilled about the snow day however.
Some graduate school exams, which were originally scheduled for Wednesday, are postponed due to the snow day.
“I’m kind of frustrated and mad,” said Chrissie Nelson, a first year law student at UW. “I kind of just wanted to get my first law school exam out of the way.”
Nelson added she would be excited to have the day off, but feels like she can’t enjoy it because she has to study.
UW political science professor Charles Franklin said he is not concerned about classes being canceled before finals. He said this cancellation would have been much more detrimental if there were not convenient ways to electronically convey information to students.
Franklin added with a few classes still left and a cumulative final, he has plenty of time to wrap up his courses.
“I personally plan to sleep late and cook pancakes tomorrow,” Franklin said.
According to Lucas, services the university designates as critical will still be operating tomorrow, including public safety, snow removal, animal care, patient care and University Housing food services.
Lucas also said all campus libraries will be closed Wednesday. Employees of the university do not have to claim a sick or vacation day.