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OU students report professors attempting to hold class during snowy campus closure

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Snow on the South Oval

Snow on the South Oval on Jan 1.

During last week’s inclement weather — which forced classes to be canceled every day except Thursday and Friday, which featured virtual-only instruction — some students reported professors attempting to hold classes despite campus’ closure.

Allegra Shaffer, the OU Student Government Association chair of campus outreach, said some students anonymously reported their professors still sought to hold class remotely despite the university’s suspension of instruction and activities during the winter weather.

Shaffer manages the SGA suggestions & concern box, a form designed to receive anonymous messages from faculty, staff and students regarding all issues pertaining to the university. Shaffer said she had “about 15” complaints from students who were all in separate classes.

“I had to reach out to multiple departments” Shaffer said, adding she contacted the deans of every college. 

Shaffer said “multiple complaints” were filed against one anonymous professor in the College of Geosciences, “dozens” against a professor in the economics department and “multiple” more against a professor in the computer engineering department.

“I said, ‘Please remind your professors under your college that there’s not to be class’ — I got a couple of responses, and they were all positive,” Shaffer said. 

The deans who responded agreed class shouldn’t be going on, and they asked for the names of the professors attempting to hold class, Shaffer added. 

After one professor in the Department of Economics received an email from College of Arts and Sciences administration reminding instructors of the closure, the professor sent an email to his class quoting the reminder and offering their own comments.

“Curious mandate from a university that is overflowing with online classes when there (are) no snow problems,” the professor wrote. “I will try to find a non-technological, non-face-to-face, proper distancing answer to how we will fill the missing classes which is becoming one full week.”

Shaffer said she plans on reaching out to Mark Morvant, vice provost of Instruction and student success, to ensure professors continue to respect class-cancellations in the future.

Kesha Keith, Director of Media Relations, said in an email to The Daily that faculty members are expected to follow university policy and, in the event of campus closure, no classes are to be held in-person or virtually unless otherwise stated by the university.

Shaffer said she encourages students who have complaints to reach out through the suggestion box. 

“I go through and read every single one and I make sure that SGA is handling them, whether it’s something small like a light that’s burnt out to professors trying to hold class during extreme weather,” Shaffer said.

Editor's note: Kesha Keith requested his article be updated at 11 p.m. Feb. 23 to clarify no classes are to be held in-person or virtually unless otherwise stated by the university in the event of campus closures.

Katie Hallum is a journalism and international area studies double major who joined The Daily's news desk in spring 2021. Katie is a Tahlequah, Oklahoma native and citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

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