Prioritize community safety before class

Sept. 23, 2013

Staff Editorial
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Pictures and footage of Colorado’s widespread flooding have dominated local and national media outlets. We don’t need turn to them to know the sheer extent of the damage, though – it’s at our doorstep.

The UCCS campus is only about 20 minutes away from Manitou Springs, which is rebuilding after heavy rain flooded numerous businesses and homes.

Cities in northern Colorado like Boulder have faced the same as they attempt to locate the hundreds of people unaccounted for in the aftermath of the disastrous flooding.

The University of Colorado Boulder had been closed since Sept. 12 to assess and repair on-campus damage, including damage to about 80 buildings, according to CU-Boulder police.

Still, despite the natural disaster, CU-Boulder resumed classes Sept. 16.

“For members of our CU family who are still displaced and who haven’t joined us yet, we don’t want you to worry,” stated CU-Boulder in a campus alert the day classes resumed. “Above all, we want you to be safe.”

Resuming classes so soon sends a conflicting message, however. The physical and emotional aftermath of the flooding makes CU-Boulder’s reopening feel premature.

While Google’s Crisis Map of the Colorado floods does show there are minimal road closures and roadblocks around the university, not every member of the CU-Boulder community lives on or near the campus.

A CU-Boulder announcement acknowledged not every instructor may return immediately, noting “some courses will be canceled or rescheduled due to instructor availability.”

While it also recommended affected students talk to their instructors to arrange accommodations, cancellations and various accommodations can – and likely will – become a mess for students and faculty alike to navigate.

“You do realize that you still can’t make up for missed lectures and students WILL fall behind,” one CU-Boulder business student tweeted to the campus Twitter account. “This is absurd.”

Students already have the stress of living in a disaster area. CU-Boulder has now added the additional stress of trying to work with professors and instructors.

Another anonymous CU-Boulder student started an online petition Sept. 15 protesting CU-Boulder’s reopening.

It was removed the afternoon of Sept. 16 with approximately 3,700 signatures, about 300 short of its goal before it would have been sent to CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano.

This isn’t a case of lazy twenty-somethings looking for an excuse to get out of morning calculus.

More than half of CU-Boulder’s students rely on their own transportation to even get there, wherever they may commute from.

The Colorado Daily reported in 2012 that 14 percent of CU-Boulder students, or 3,953 students total, drive alone to campus. Another 39 percent either biked or walked.

Even in the best-case scenario, in which those students all safely commute to campus, they are still members of a disaster-stricken community.

Chances are, if they haven’t lost everything in the flood, they know at least one of the 1,750 people who the Associated Press has reported as evacuated from Boulder and Larimer counties.

And although UCCS and its students and faculty have escaped from the floods largely unscathed, the CU system should recognize this as an opportunity for northern Colorado to help one another rebuild and heal.

While we at The Scribe recognize the importance of education, the people of Boulder and neighboring communities are reeling after losing homes and, quite possibly, loved ones.

Sometimes, class can wait.