Washburn fails to effectively communicate #epicfail

Washburn Review Staff

Yesterday’s winter storm created a lot of negative social media buzz for Washburn University. Before people were even safe at home Monday evening, the state and most local K-12 schools had canceled for Tuesday. And in the early evening, both Kansas State University and the University of Kansas had also announced Tuesday closings.

While there is some credibility to seeing snowfall before the decision to cancel is made, we all are left wondering just what Washburn was thinking.

We joined rival Emporia State in the quest to trudge to work and classes as the steady snow began to fall at 8:30 a.m. Emporia was released at noon, but The WU community staggered along until 2:15 p.m. And, by then, many students were lingering on campus waiting for their late afternoon classes or evening classes to begin.

The biggest problem was the fact that despite the university being open, many classes were canceled by faculty members anyway. It might be worth noting that not all of these faculty members and academic departments did a great job of notifying students in a timely manner.

Some showed up to empty classrooms before 2:15 p.m. and were left with no note, no faculty member, not a single representative from the department or an email. Perhaps Washburn needs a stricter policy on how class cancellations get reported. We don’t think a note on the door indicating that a class is canceled is fair to the student body. Some faculty might have tried to use D2L or the new email system to notify students, but as these emails can sometimes take hours to arrive in inboxes, we are not convinced this is a good solution either.

So, we kept campus open, but many might wonder what was actually accomplished. Attendance was pitiful, and buildings and parking lots were pretty empty. Faculty were teaching to the one or two students who trudged on to campus.

The most disappointing thing was Washburn’s complete failure to communicate with its students and campus community. Washburn gives the impression that it’s OK for faculty who live in places like Kansas City or Lawrence not to attend, but those who live in town are expected to make the scary drive across town to get here. Failing to cancel or at least announce or inform that yes, we are having class and this is why, was completely ridiculous. Or perhaps issuing a press release that clearly explains Washburn’s policies would be fair. 

Yet Washburn refused to let students know classes would be canceled until the last minute. This time Washburn waited until 8:00 P.M. before sending out the text to let students know they’d be free to stay home. Sitting in the Student Media offices at 8:20 Tuesday night, the roads still remained unplowed and the only people we saw out there doing any kind of shoveling were students clearing a path to their dorm.