Weather can be harmful for commuters

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Opinion. Art by Chris Brockman.

Opinion. Art by Chris Brockman.

From Feb. 5 through Feb. 6, winter weather struck the Texas Panhandle. It was a reminder that despite our mild Januarys, this is indeed winter – a season notorious for terrible driving conditions derived from snow and ice. While most people joke that the Amarillo and Canyon area doesn’t harbor the best drivers in the most superb driving conditions, the situation deteriorates substantially when the weather takes a nosedive.

However, despite the dangerous weather, West Texas A&M University did not cancel classes.

For example, we know of a  student who had attempted to come to a class on the morning of Feb. 5, only to hit the ice going 20 miles per hour on Interstate 27, narrowly missing a semi-truck and ending up going backwards into a nearby ditch.

Would that be the school’s fault for asking this individual to come to class in these adverse conditions? Could the school be sued for damages if the individual’s vehicle had been damaged or totaled? Could the individual’s family sue the university had the individual been severely injured or killed?

That would make a large mess out of things. That situation would certainly cause a gigantic black eye for the university itself.

The university should be more sensitive to the situation for students who commute from the likes of Amarillo, Hereford or the middle of Randall or Potter counties to venture into Canyon with its hills and turns coming into the small city.

It may not make sense to cancel outright with all of the students who live on campus, but there must be some leeway for those who have to travel to attend classes, especially when some faculty members see attendance as part of a student’s grade or see that it is the student’s responsibility to keep track of what is going on in that respective class.

No matter how many residential buildings are built on campus and no matter how many resources the university has, unless living at these residential halls are dirt cheap and accommodate single parents or families who are attending West Texas A&M University, WTAMU has been, currently is and will always be a commuter school.

But perhaps a compromise can be reached. We at The Prairie just hope the university and the administration are ready for this proposition.

In not so great weather situations, such as what happened this past week, it would be more than fair to let commuters know that they do not have to attend classes in these situations.

What about setting up a five mile perimeter around campus and also around the Amarillo Center while letting students and faculty close by know that if they are less than five minutes away from these locations during optimal situations, that they are asked to lead or attend their classes or meetings? Would that be able to work?

As much as we apologize to those who live on campus or live close-by, proposals do need to have some middle ground for them to pass through.

The main issue here is student, staff and faculty safety. The utmost priority of this university should not only be the advancement of the institution itself, but to take care of those who attend and work here at West Texas A&M University.


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Weather can be harmful for commuters