Illustration by Emmanuelle Maher

For many students, the long commutes to campus became even longer on Nov. 12, as a result of icy roads and vehicle accidents across the city, including at least 14 reported accidents along Loop 1604.

Early that morning, SAPD released a list of road closures, which included parts of Highway 151, IH-10 and Loop 410 bridges, as well as the westbound and eastbound lanes of Loop 1604 from NW Military to Kyle Seale Parkway. In spite of the chaos, UTSA posted a weather alert on social media, announcing that the university would operate on a regular schedule, leaving the decision to cancel classes up to professors and instructors.

If UTSA was primarily a residential campus rather than a commuter campus, the road closures would not be much of an issue for the majority of the student body. However, less than a quarter of undergraduate students live on campus.

According to UTSA’s Common Data Set for 2018-2019, 82% of undergraduates live off campus or commute, leaving a mere 18% who live on campus. These students must drive in unsafe conditions as they travel from all San Antonio areas as well as from bordering areas such as Converse and Pleasanton.

Students shared their concerns about their safety with UTSA across social media, but the university held firm in its decision. While some classes ended up being canceled, others continued as normal and even held exams rather than push them to a later date.

According to UTSA Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP) 9.15, “In the event of severe weather conditions or other emergency situations, the President, or his or her designee, may suspend normal operations and classes.” As a commuter campus, the university needs to consider the risks commuter students take to get to class in perilous weather conditions. The HOP needs to define “severe weather conditions” with commuter students in mind. Severe weather conditions are more severe and dangerous for students who have long commutes to campus. Students should not have to decide whether to risk their safety to attend class or to stay at home and risk a failing grade.

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