Winter Winds Leave Planned Schedules In Dust: How Students and Professors are Dealing With Three Snow Days

By: Katie Betz,

Snow and cold are normal in Minnesota, but in the last few weeks the polar vortex brought a bit more than normal.

MSUM has canceled three days of class in the first five weeks of the semester. Students and professors are being forced to adjust schedules and due dates to compensate for the setbacks caused by the cancellations.

Deneen Gilmour is an associate professor in the school of communication and journalism. This semester she is teaching four classes, two for upper classmen and two at the freshman/sophomore level. She said that the days off did not affect her lower level classes as much as the upper level classes.

For one of these classes, Digital Storytelling, readjustments were a challenge.

“[The cancellations] pushed back due dates and we kept having to push it back, which is confusing for students,” Gilmour said.  “I ended up dropping one assignment so that we could do quality work on the others.”

Losing class time is not without consequences for the lower level classes either. Gilmour explained that for newer students, being in class is key to build relationships.

“It’s so important that faculty make a human connection with every student, but especially students who we don’t yet know,” Gilmour said. “In a Comm 210 class it’s rare that I know any of them, and it’s important that I know them so that I can help them, and the repertoire helps them learn better, so I am worried about that.”  

In the face of changing schedules, Gilmour advises students to be especially good about communicating with their professors.

“Give your professors the benefit of the doubt for dealing with this through three weather related outages,” Gilmour said. “[It] might seem like the wrong plan to you or not the plan that you like, [but] they may have done this many times before … students [should] be willing to be flexible with faculty, and if they don’t know, ask.”

This year’s cancellations are nothing compared to the cancellations during the 2008-2009 school year, which had record flooding and snow during the spring semester, according to Gilmour. In that school year classes were cancelled for one to two weeks as parts of Moorhead were under an evacuation order because of flooding.

“Compared to that year we are doing great right now. It’s all relative,” Gilmour said.

Bethany LaForce is a first-year graphic design major who is taking Gilmour’s media writing class along with six other courses. She explained that many of her classes are project-based, so they have been pushed back to allow for better work.

“I’ve missed a couple tests and quizzes because they were on days that got cancelled,” LaForce said.  “So they got pushed back and I still have to take them, so it kind of adds to stress because it just keeps piling up.”

LaForce said that she doesn’t think it will affect the rest of the semester much until the end.

“I really don’t think it will be that big of a deal. It might be a little bit more crammed at the end, but it always is …” LaForce said.

Gilmour said she hopes the professors will be able to correct their schedules in the next several weeks so that it doesn’t affect finals.

“But a lot of that depends on the weather.”

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