Classes Canceled through Tuesday; Students, Faculty Lack Communication

Editor’s Note: Updated at 1:09 p.m. to add in more campus location hours and services.

SMU has canceled classes and closed campus through Monday and Tuesday per a campus wide email on Monday morning. The cancellations and campus closure come as the entire state experiences rotating power outages in the wake of unprecedented winter weather and storm advisories.

“The state’s rotating power outages are more widespread and lasting longer than anticipated impacting our community and interrupting virtual instruction,” the email said. “The outages, created by the extreme weather, are also causing a loss of heat in some buildings on campus, so please dress warmly, plan ahead and power up electronic devices when possible.”

Students in the snow on Dallas Hall lawn
Students take in the snow that covers Dallas Hall lawn. SMU announced earlier in the day that classes are cancelled through at least Tuesday as the state continues to experience rolling power outages. Photo credit: Ash Thye

SMU first announced a campus closure on Sunday, Feb. 14, and promised further updates on campus operations by 6 a.m. on Monday. That email did not arrive until almost 10 a.m. on Monday. While many professors canceled and modified class attendance ahead of the Monday morning email, some professors hoped to continue class by other means.

Students in a section of Management and Organizations (MNO) 3370, shared an email with The Daily Campus from their professor asking students to call in to their virtual classes if they could not connect over wifi. One student in the class also said that those who had been scheduled for an in-class presentation were directly emailed about writing a 5-to-8 page makeup analysis paper if they were absent, a policy that is also outlined in the course syllabus.

An email from a professor asks students to attend class over the phone despite power outages. Other professors attempted similar alternatives before all classes were cancelled in a campus-wide announcement.
An email from a professor asks students to attend class over the phone despite power outages. Other professors attempted similar alternatives before all classes were cancelled in a campus-wide announcement.

All classes are canceled through at least Tuesday, but some students and faculty feel the university could have prevented the confusion with an earlier announcement and clearer plans. Other Texas universities, including UT Austin and UT Arlington, announced on Sunday that all in-person and virtual classes would be canceled.

“SMU needed to make this decision earlier,” SMU student Pallavi Sridhar said in a tweet responding to The Daily Campus. “I heard from many friends this morning of the efforts they were putting in trying to get logged on to class despite not having WiFi and being worried that power may go at any moment. People sounded stressed, exhausted, and needing a break.

A faculty-wide email sent on Friday, Feb. 12, encouraged faculty to plan for severe weather, and informed them that all classes would be offered virtually in the event of a campus closure. SMU later alerted the campus at 9:40 p.m. on Sunday that, while the campus would be closed, and rolling blackouts were anticipated, all classes would still be held virtually.

“If it becomes evident that weather issues will challenge in-person operations next week, members of our leadership team will convene over the weekend to discuss and initiate a response plan,” the email said.

Campus Locations Currently Open

  • Arnold Dining Hall: Limited take-out service, electricity and heat running
  • Dr. Bob Smith Health Center (Open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.) : Open for telehealth, in-person medical care, pharmacy, and COVID-19 testing. Call 214-768-2141 to schedule an appointment.
  • Hughes-Trigg Student Center (Closes at 9 p.m): Electricity and heat running; Emergency warm-up and power-up spot
  • Fondren Library (Closes at 9 p.m): Emergency warm-up and power-up spot
  • Umphrey-Lee Dining Hall: Dine-in service, electricity and heat running

Staying Warm Without Power

The National Weather Service tweeted the following advice:

  • Close blinds and curtains to keep in some heat.
  • Close off rooms to trap heat.
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.
  • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
  • Eating and drinking provides energy to warm your body, but avoid alcohol and caffeine.