The University of Nevada, Reno, opened its campus on Wednesday, Dec. 5, despite receiving approximately four inches of snow the previous night, which caused issues for commuters.
On Tuesday night, the university sent out a message announcing the university will close at 9:00 p.m. due to weather. Classes were to convene on Wednesday, according to the email.
“It took me 4 hours to get home last night,” wrote Miska Reid, a student at the university, over Facebook. “What should have been a one hour drive took me FOUR HOURS. I ended up driving in the worst of the ice and snow. Luckily, I bought a Subaru a couple months back otherwise I don’t know if I would have made it over USA Parkway. It had been snowing on campus since 4 p.m. and you decided to close campus at 9 p.m., what for? So instead of being able to wait out the traffic and road closures on the 80 on campus, I had to wait on the 80 in my car for three hours. The people who make these decisions really need to think of the commuters. None of these decisions adversely affects the freshman because most all of them live on campus, this only affects the commuters who more often than not tend to have husbands, kids, and other responsibilities besides partying. Shame on you, UNR.”
The Reno’s Police Department urged drivers to stay off the roads Dec. 4, unless there was an emergency. Police officers were able to respond around 8:00 p.m. to injury-related accidents.
On Tuesday, the Department of Public Safety and Nevada Highway Patrol Northern Command West reported seven vehicle incidents, which possibly caused traffic delays in the Reno area.
“We are seeing chain controls on just about every highway this morning,” NHP tweeted on Dec. 5. “The roads have turned to ice and traction is significantly reduced. Stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reported the Reno area received one to three inches of snow in the foothills, five to six inches in the mountains and eight to nine inches on the mountain peaks on Monday, Dec 3.
“I get that it is easy for kids that live on campus or near campus to get to class during the snow, but have you considered the kids that have to commute to school and also kids that have disabilities,” Austin Croft, a student at the university commented on Facebook. “Kids that have disabilities are going to have the hardest time getting to classes today and could be a liability for injuries on campus.”
Due to the weather conditions, black ice began to form on the roads. Black ice is a transparent layer of ice found on roads and pavement. It is formed when moistures freezes on the road. Black ice is hard to see because it blends into the roadways and is hazardous because a vehicle can lose traction, causing traffic incidents.
“Dear UNR, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and left the house at 6:30 a.m.,” Lisa Perryman, a student at the university wrote on Facebook. “My car got stuck 3 times and I feared for my life several times just to make it to my test on time. I know you use the rational that most of your students live on campus but they do not. You only have enough student housing for the freshman class and with the housing crisis, more students are having to live further away from campus. How about you start looking at your students as people and think of their safety and wait till the roads are plowed instead of as paychecks. Thank you.”
The US Department of Transportation announced around 152,000 cars annually crash due to icy pavement and the average black ice fatality is 3.6 times the total deaths from other weather conditions combined between 2005 and 2014. Around 900 people are killed in vehicle crashes due to snowfall or sleet every year.
“The snow on the ground has gotten worse since last night,” Douglas Silber, a student at UNR commented on Facebook. “It’s still snowing. Way to think of the students’ safety first. One day off wouldn’t kill you guys but it may kill us trying to get there. Not risking my safety for this crap. But of course, only when it’s 9 p.m. does the university care. You guys should make it that campus is open but students who have to commute won’t be punished if they can’t make it.
Snow and black ice are hazardous when walking. Every year, approximately 800,000 people are hospitalized due to a fall-related injury. The average price of a fall injury is $33,000 due to medical bills.
The university sent an email on Wednesday morning alerting students the Tau Kappa Epsilon investigation was still ongoing after it was discussed during “Pizza with the President”. Some students voiced frustration on Twitter over addressing the investigation rather than the hazardous weather conditions.
Washoe County Schools in Reno and Sparks either resumed classes or had a two-hour delay on Wednesday due to busing issues.
“I love how the roads are ‘clear’ yet when I got to school this morning the buses had to have chains to be able to drive,” Mackenzie McCadden, a student, wrote on Instagram. “Also saw cars sliding all over and one accident. But school is more important than our lives, right?”
If a student wishes to report their frustrations with university decisions regarding snow days, they may report to facility services at (775) 784-4654.
Taylor Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.