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Vol 40  No 7
December 13, 2007


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University in winter weather mode

Snow season
by JEFF GREEN

Late autumn snowstorms have people thinking about severe weather conditions and, at Memorial, about getting the word out about emergency closing procedures.

Blustery conditions, slippery roads and plenty of snow have affected both St. John’s and Corner Brook in recent weeks. All this means that the university is once again in winter mode.

Officials on both sides of the island make decisions on campus closures with safety at the forefront.

When severe weather arrives, the decision to cancel classes or close the St. John’s campus rests ultimately with the university president (or his/her designate, should he/she be out of town). The president receives advice from a number of university units, particularly Facilities Management, which remains in close contact with Environment Canada, the provincial Department of Transportation and Works, and the RNC and RCMP as weather systems develop.

Similarly, in Corner Brook, the principal makes the call in consultation with the vice-principal and the director of Administration and Finance.

Since Memorial is a residential institution, it is a priority to maintain key operations and schedules, even when tasked with emergencies such as poor weather. The university doesn’t close except under unusual circumstances. In the event of severe weather or other emergencies, if Memorial has to cancel classes or to close, information will be made available as quickly as possible through a variety of communications vehicles.

And with a population of more than 17,000 students, faculty and staff, news has to get out fast.

In St. John’s, when closures happen midway through the day, a message is sent around campus as quickly as possible. It is phoned or faxed to student unions, faculties, schools, departments and divisions, e-mailed to 4,000 employees via MUN Newsline e-mail service, and posted to the today.mun.ca website, as well as the main university website, www.mun.ca. The same notice is posted to the cancellations site, which is accessible through the main Memorial page. Similar actions are taken on the Corner Brook campus via e-mail, and information appears on www.swgc.mun.ca.

Information is also relayed to provincial media who are extremely co-operative in airing the news as soon as possible.

Early closings during daytime will be announced at least one hour in advance. Advisories for late openings and all-day closures will be issued by 7 a.m. In addition to contacting the media and posting information to the university website, the Division of Marketing and Communications and, at Grenfell College, the Division of Community Education and College Relations, also make early morning phone calls directly to the heads of key university/college units such as the Childcare Centre, the Marine Institute, The Works, the Pepsi Centre and other selected campus offices.

For more information on the university’s emergency closing procedures, including what radio stations to listen to, visit www.mun.ca/main/closures.php.

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