URBANA (AP) – Some of the state’s universities told students to stay home Monday as wind chills dropped well below zero and the forecast promised more of the same Tuesday.
But other schools, the three University of Illinois campuses among them, held classes as usual, and those decisions weren’t always popular with students.
The flagship campus of the University of Illinois sent out word Sunday night that classes would be held.
“The determination was made that the temperature, combined with the sun being out, and [if] the people dressed appropriately for the conditions, and using the bus system or walking the short distances they need to walk across campus, they can safely make their way,” campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler said. “People who came here are serious scholars and they want to be in class.”
But the brief electronic message from Chancellor Phyllis Wise, who decides whether to call off classes after consulting with medical staff and other university officials, was met with howls from some students, among them many of 19-year-old Megan Gonzalez’s friends.
“They’re completely annoyed,” she said.
And at first, she agreed with them.
“But now that I’m outside, honestly, it’s not that bad,” the Chicago native said as she walked across the heart of the campus late Monday morning, bundled up in a coat, scarf and gloves but no hat. The temperature in the area was about 7 degrees at the time, but the wind chill was around minus 15, according to the National Weather Service.
An online petition urging Wise to call of classes was signed more than 8,000 times. The university very rarely calls off classes for weather.
The U of I campuses in Chicago and Springfield also held classes, as did Eastern Illinois in Charleston, about 45 miles south of Champaign.
But 60 miles west of Champaign in Normal, where the weather was essentially the same, Illinois State University told students to stay home. Classes were cancelled for today, too.
“We were looking at the forecast, and as of last evening, the forecast was going to be bad and showing no sign of improving on Tuesday,” spokesman Eric Jome said as he looked out his office window, seeing just a few students out.
The decision was made by President Timothy Flanagan after a campus committee recommended classes be called off, Jome said.
Classes can’t be made up, Jome said, since graduation dates are set well in advance. But faculty and students work around the missed classroom hours.
Northern Illinois University also cancelled classes at its campuses for Monday and Tuesday, and private Bradley University in Peoria told students to stay home Monday.
Follow David Mercer on Twitter: https://twitter.com/davidmercerap