ASSOCIATION OF REGISTRARS OF THE
UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES OF CANADA

ARUCC News and Updates

Update from Memorial University Following Historic Snowstorm

In light of an unprecedented snow storm and the state of emergency that was declared in St. John’s, Memorial was faced with having lost seven instructional days in the first three weeks on the Winter Semester.  Given that so much instructional time was lost so early in the semester and the potential for further lost time due to inclement weather, discussions started on what the University’s response should be.  It was decided that maintaining academic integrity of the semester was critical as well as consulting with key stakeholders and being as fair as possible to students.

Memorial’s Senate Committee on Undergraduate Studies held an emergency conference call and developed a proposal to make modifications to the academic semester.  The proposal included adding five instructional days to the semester including a Saturday, removing one study day before examinations and extending the examination period.  This proposal was then shared with the Provost, the President, Dean’s Council, and student and faculty unions.  When no major concerns were identified in this process, Senate Executive endorsed the proposal. Upon the proposal being endorsed, it was rapidly disseminated to the university community via our safety app, email and social media.  We developed an FAQ page to answer questions we anticipated receiving and provided a commitment to respond to questions not covered in the FAQs within 24 hours.  The FAQ page was updated as questions were received and as new information became available.  The most common question received from students, was ‘I have travel planned during the extended exam period what should I do’.

It took about 48 hours from the first conference call on what should the University do about the semester until a decision was made public.  This is even more remarkable as no vehicles were allowed on the road in St. John’s; so the whole process was completed by email and conference calls.  It was remarkable to see the university community come together in light of a snow storm, aptly name Snowmageddon, that gave us three feet of snow (and snow drifts of ten feet) and made St. John’s hilly streets look like ski hills.