If returning to school after two glorious weeks of break isn’t hard enough, the presence of arctic temperatures and almost a foot of snow on the ground led students and faculty in a battle for survival to begin the second semester. Mother Nature unleashed her fury in the form of freezing temperatures, which reached as low as negative fifteen degrees Fahrenheit in Ann Arbor, as well as more than ten inches of snow.
Students across the country fought their way back to campus in order to attend their first classes of the winter semester on January 8, 2014. Delayed means of transport further augmented students’ anxiety as they were forced to acquire alternative transportation. Some students with delayed plane flights, trains, and buses chose to drive to Ann Arbor rather than receive continued delays, and therefore put their lives at increased risk.
The University of Michigan’s Provost, Martha Pollack, claimed that the University should only close “in extreme circumstances” (M Live). Therefore, to everyone’s surprise, on January 27, 2014, the University decided to cancel all classes and laboratory sessions for the following day, January 28. The decision was justified by the claim that extreme cold temperatures, which were expected to reach negative thirty degrees Fahrenheit below zero with wind chill, would result in dangerous walking conditions.
The University had not closed its Ann Arbor campus as a result of severe weather since 1978. After the University’s decision to remain open following one of the worst snowstorms in years, students were unprepared to witness such a momentous occasion.